Reflecting on Romans chapter 5, I see how Paul connects joy and hope, suffering and glory in a way that encourages (literally puts courage in me) and strengthens me. I pray that his words might be a source of encouragement to you in your journey these days as well.
Romans 5:2b-5, “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
Paul mentions two reasons for rejoicing—both rooted in hope. Hope is seen from two perspectives. There is a hope in our final outcome, but also the hope that we discover along the way.
There is a joyful hope that comes in a confident future. The very idea that we will come to share in God’s magnificence and grandeur in a more obvious and visible way brightens my perspective. I long deeply for this.
But Paul also speaks of rejoicing in our sufferings. This isn’t a joy I identify with quite as quickly. Paul says “not only so” in verse 3. Rejoicing in sufferings does not come naturally. I have to learn to connect joy and hope in the midst of sufferings. My usual reaction to suffering is usual a little less noble…something like “ouch!” I’m still learning to look through the hurt to the hope that lies ahead.
So, Paul’s words about rejoicing are two perspectives of the same reality. The joy we find in the hope of God’s glory is an anticipated perspective from the end looking back. We rejoice in who we hope to become by the grace of God. The joy we can find in suffering is the recognition that the trying and testing places in our journey are producing in us that which we most deeply and truly desire. We rejoice in God’s faithful shaping of our lives, even through painful means.