we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings'
'we rejoice in our sufferings'
This seems to be a bit of a theme in the New Testament, and it's not just Paul that mentions it. James also says, 'Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds'.
It seems that when Paul and James amongst others were writing to encourage the churches, that their attitutde was different to ours. Nowadays we see pain, suffering and difficulty as unecessary, usually inconvenient or a punishment.
Paul and James have a different outlook.
In Romans, Paul lets us know that, 'we rejoice in our sufferings'. So, it is not something that he is commanding or encouraging people to do, it seems like it is their response, 'we rejoice' isn't an instruction but rather written as if it is a fact. It's not singular either, so it must of been a common attitude from those Paul was around.
Paul alse says they, 'rejoice in hope of the glory of God'. These people, these christians, seem to celebrate the hope they have in God just as they celebrate suffering.
These people clearly have a different response to suffering compared to us nowadays. Why is that?
Have we become so comfortable in our daily lives where, to be honest, there isn't much suffering or reliance on God required? Most of us around the world expect to eat today, to have fresh water and have a roof over our heads in some form. We are comfortable, we have come to accept and expect a degree of comfort. Suffering and hardship doesn't seem to feature too much.
Yet, these people, rejoiced in sufferings. Their lives weren't easy, they lived with the tension of whether today was the day they would be thrown in prison, mocked or beaten just for being a christian. Yet they rejoice.
In these days as christians, we may mention that they believe in God to our friends and family, even workmates, but most of us try to keep it light. We don't want to get involved in a theological debate, so we emphasise that it is 'our' faith, 'our' belief, a personal decision that we can keep to ourselves.
I don't see those in the Bible doing the same.
We can argue that there could be some fall out if they declare Christ and are overt in their faith. We could lose our job, fall out with friends and family. This may be true.
But, isn't this how it was in the New Testament?
Paul and others declared who Jesus is regardless of the fall out. The consequences for them are much harsher than the consequences we could face. For most of us, if we do share who we know God to be, it may affect our employment, it may cause some estranged relationships, but will we endure prison? will we be beaten? will we lose our lives?
In some countries, this is still a horrifying reality, but even there, you see christians motivated by something stronger than the fear of persecution.
The suffering and difficulties that these people, past and present go through does not affect their attitude, as this seems to be based on something other than circumstance.
As Paul says, 'we rejoice in hope of the glory of God'. Maybe it's this that we are missing out on. We rejoice, enjoy and are satisfied in the comfort that this world offers; the stability of a good job, the comfort of a warm bed, the satisfaction of a great meal.
But, do you realise these are all temporary? These things will not last in the age to come. Paul, and the New Testament christians have their hope in, 'the glory of God'. Not in the glory of this world.
So, let us decide to do the same, rejoice not in the things of this world which are temporary and will fade away but rejoice in the God who has been here for eternity. He is the one that can satisfy our desires, cover our weaknesses and bring the inner peace to the turmoil of the heart. Let us set our minds on God, learn to enjoy the trials and learn from them.
Become stronger in faith through the struggles of life because they are reasons to rejoice (even if we don't enjoy them).