May 3rd, 2023 – Late Wednesday Afternoon
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” ~Romans 5:1-5
Ah, the glory and the awestruck wonder found in knowing the love of God in Christ! These verses summarize the Good News we recently celebrated again during Holy Week; they remind us of the reality of our situation because of God’s love for us. We who are in Christ Jesus have been justified (“to judge, declare, pronounce, righteous and therefore acceptable”) by faith; we have peace with God…Do we realize the magnitude and significance of this statement? We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ! On top of that, we stand in grace and exult (“to glory in a thing”) in confident expectation of the glory of God. We are redeemed by Christ, adopted by the Father, and joyously expectant of God’s coming glory.
We may be tempted to gloss over the ugliness found in tribulation, but it is not ugly according to God’s Word. Paul is not alone in highlighting the necessity and “power” of trials and tribulations in the lives of those who know and follow Christ; Peter and James both spoke positively of trouble, while Jude, John, and the writer of Hebrews all offer encouragement in the face of suffering. Trials, troubles, tribulation are not just to be expected in the Christian walk; no, rather, they should be embraced since they are used by God to refine us, purify us, and forge in us perseverance and patience along the way to proven character.
What is the big deal about “proven character”? The answer brings us back to square one: Hope, in the biblical sense (confident and joyful expectation), seems to be the by-product of God’s careful craftsmanship. “Of course!”, you might say. “It has to be God who does anything good in us, right?” And I would wholeheartedly agree, of course. However, what I mean is that hope is forged, not simply popped into existence from nothing. Without the careful process of tried and true character through which our Father puts every one of His children, it seems that hope would take on the world’s definition (“I ‘hope’ it doesn’t rain tomorrow…” or “I ‘hope’ my strength holds out…”) instead of the mature, solid confidence in Who it is that loves us and carries us.
My dearly loved friends, how awesome and complete is the love of God! May we humble ourselves under His mighty hand – rejoicing in tribulation – and grow up into the hopeful and hope-filled saints Christ has redeemed us to be!