Read Romans 5
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 5 gives us one of the most difficult passages to digest. Paul starts the chapter by saying “we glory in our sufferings.” Other translations read “we rejoice in our sufferings.” We can’t easily grasp that or quickly skim it over. Does God really expect us to rejoice in cancer diagnosis or the death of close friends, to glory in failed relationships or wayward children? Surely not…right? This is one of the most baffling parts of Christianity. It doesn’t make sense to our finite understanding of how the world should work.
Yet, it’s true and repeated numerous times in Scripture (Acts 5, Mathew 5, Colossians 1:24, James 1, and 1 Peter 4:12-13 to name a few). So, since it’s clearly a theme in Scripture, we’d be wise to pay attention.
Paul attempts to convince his readers (both then and now) that this is the way God’s world works. When trials come our way, we are to rejoice in them because we know what they produce in us: perseverance, character, and a hope that does not put us to shame. As Christians, our hope comes from the fact that because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, this world is not our final home. Whatever happens here is not the end for us. And because of that hope and the promise of a better place, we can endure whatever this world throws at us.
And along the way, as we endure the difficult things on this side of heaven, our character is formed as perseverance is developed in us. And, best of all, we begin to look like Christ. Paul writes in Philippians that in order to attain resurrection life like Jesus, we must also share in His sufferings, becoming like Him in death (Phillippians 3:10-11). Every time we deny ourselves, suffer in small and big ways, experience trials, or feel hurt and pain, we share in His sufferings. We become more like Christ.
But that’s not easy or natural or fun for us to do. So, oftentimes when trials come our way, we do all we can to ignore, minimize, or avoid them at all cost. However, our reading today reminds us that Jesus calls us to more. He wants to use the difficult seasons in our life to produce something good in us. And as we lean into the difficult parts of life and learn to suffer well, we begin to look more like Christ, which is well worth the cost.
- In what ways do you try to avoid or minimize sufferings?
- How has God used difficult things in your life to make you more like Him?
- What suffering (big or small) are you enduring right now? How can you lean into it more? What can you learn from this season you’re in?
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