but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed;
- Romans 5:3-5
Paul gloried in many things, and here we see he included tribulation.
Tribulations come to all of us in one way or another, but rarely would any of us be thankful for them, let alone glory in them. Yet, here, we see something entirely different.
Yesterday, we spoke of King David, who sought the Lord for eyes to see wondrous things in the Law. Paul sees something equally as profound in tribulation.
He knew he would draw resistance to his preaching and work as a fearless Apostle, so he tapped into the positive side of tribulation to develop resilience in his spiritual life. He saw a pattern for keeping on top of the depression and negativity when trials come.
Firstly, he says that tribulation works patience. Going through a trial for the first time, we certainly lack patience and sometimes hope in God. In its place is fear and anxiety. Instead of thinking words of faith, like, “I know God is with me through this” we think words of doubt, like, “I wonder if God is with me through this.”
Conversely, when we have been down the road a bit and weathered a few trials, we tend to be more patient, knowing the Lord is with us in the trial and sooner or later there should be an end to it. These trials of patience provide us with the critical ingredient of experience. The more trials — the more experience. In any job or situation, experience is everything. Bring in an experienced person, and things run smoother.
Experience helped with Paul's hope, and it helps with ours. How?
Hope maketh not ashamed. When we lack hope in Christ, it is a shame to us.
Regardless of our situations, and we have plenty, we must keep hope alive. All the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 kept hope alive throughout their trials. Instead of buckling under the pressure of the trial, they relied on God and He always came through. This brought the type of experience Job relied on through his debilitating trials. He hoped to the very end of the trial. Experience also brought out the courage of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo, and Daniel. They relied on the Lord who always met them in their trial. He will do the same for us.
What other benefits are there in tribulation?
Free-of-charge, we obtain empathies with others’ woes, which are indeed riches in Christ, and needed by every Christian. Additionally, we grow some of the fruit of the Spirit when under trial, such as — love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.
We can look at tribulation in fear; or look at it like Paul did, and use it as a tool for increasing our resilience in Christ.
How do we do that?
We anticipate tribulation. We don't invite, but we expect it. Most trials we go through have an end, so we need to ride it out and maintain the trust that the Lord knows everything we are going through and is in there with us.
Today’s Prayer: Dear Lord, that you for this passage. I have lacked hope during trials, so help me to see this golden opportunity of looking at tribulation in a different way. Help me to remember it as I go through trials, and use it as a tool, like Paul.