We are included in the family of God as spiritual descendants of Abraham. We are included in the plan of God as his chosen ones to share his good news. This is wonderful! God has gone out of his way to include us when it would have been much easier to do it all on his own. He wants us to help.
However, this is not always easy. In fact, it’s not usually easy. Romans 5 says, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (verses 3-5).
Let’s take a look at that section by section. First, this passage is guaranteeing that we will suffer. It doesn’t say, “We rejoice if we have sufferings.” It says, “We rejoice in our sufferings.” Furthermore, we will suffer long enough to develop endurance, which doesn’t come in a moment or a day. This endurance will change our character, and we will end up with hope. There is a bright spot at the end of the tunnel, but still, we have to ask: why does it start with suffering?
The interesting thing is that this passage doesn’t start with suffering. Verse 2 says, “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” We both begin and end with hope. We begin with hope of the glory of God; we end with hope given to us through God’s love in the Holy Spirit. Everything in the middle of the passage, the suffering and endurance that leads to character, is placed in the context of having hope. Without hope, having a guarantee of suffering would turn everyone away from God. But because we have hope, our suffering can have meaning, and we can get through it.
This is a gift: as part of God’s family and God’s plan, we can have hope even through the hard times. Take a look at your life right now. Ask yourself, where is the suffering? But more importantly, ask yourself, where is hope? When you find it, “rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (verse 11).