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3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance


A third benefit or privilege of knowing God through justification is a strong orientation to suffering with joy.

3 More than that,

There is something more than rejoicing in confidence about our future with the glory of God. Paul extended our rejoicing to another level in this verse.

we rejoice in our sufferings,

“Rejoice” here is the same word as in verse two. There is an emphasis by the repetition of this word. It is not enough to endure trials, we need to “rejoice” in them.

“Sufferings” carries the ideas of distresses, pressures, afflictions. The Greek word bears the ideas of pressing together, pressure. Christians sometimes go through crushing experiences. It is distress or trouble brought about by adverse circumstances. These distresses are not mere inconveniences but major hardships. Trial is the common lot of us all.

2 Co 1:4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.

1 Th 1:6 And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,

1 Th 3:3 that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.

knowing that

The Greek word for “knowing” means to know by intuition or perception. We know by the perception that the end of the chain-reaction of suffering, endurance, and character is “hope” (vv. 4-5). The appeal is to the experience the Romans had in common—that is, this series of experiences resulting from suffering. We cannot relate sufferings to God’s plan without “knowing” something.

People wait until they get into deep water before they try to understand God’s plan for suffering. It is too late then.

suffering produces [develops] endurance [fortitude, steadfastness, perseverance]

Christian suffering produces “endurance,” which is steadfastness. Steadfastness is remaining under difficult circumstances without giving up. This word comes from two Greek words: under and to remain. The idea is to remain under the situation. A quality of biblical suffering is continuance. There is an unswerving dimension in our attitude toward suffering. We may proceed in what appears to us as imperceptible progress, but at some point, we reach a vista that shows how far we came.

Ro 15:5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jas 1:3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

PRINCIPLE:

Christian orientation to God’s economy develops steadfastness in distress.

APPLICATION:

Christian orientation to suffering is not stoic acceptance or tolerance of troubles but something that pivots around hope (vv. 4-5). Christians must be ready to endure suffering rather than escape it. We are to endure it through anything that may come our way. Endurance spawns hope; troubles toughen believers because of that hope.

Rejoicing in affliction is counterintuitive. We have a tendency to bemoan our problems. There will be no affliction in heaven, but affliction in time has purpose in God’s economy. We do not exult in troubles themselves but in something that transcends distress.

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