(Romans 5:1-5 [ESV2011])
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Paul knew something about suffering. When God converted him on the road to Damascus, he didn’t become rich, healthy and wealthy. He was arrested, imprisoned, shipwrecked, bitten, stoned and left for dead. Most historical accounts hold that he was beheaded sometime around the Great Fire of Rome. Paul also took great pains to let us know in his epistles that we would suffer similarly if we truly believed and did the work of our Lord as a result.
Knowing that we will suffer, what is the root of our hope and peace? Our savior, Jesus Christ, has given meaning to our suffering by justifying us through faith. He has promised to raise us up on the last day through our belief in Him and, therefore, the desire to do His will. That is where our hope and peace comes from. Romans 8:17 says that we suffer with Him so that we may be glorified with Him. He will tear us so that He may heal us, He will strike us down and bind us up (Hosea 6), and we will count it all joy, because the testing of our faith produces steadfastness. James says Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.
A hunk of ore is useless on its own, but when heat is applied it is purified into iron and can be molded into strong and useful forms. So it is with us. If God is going to use us as regenerate men and women, we require the same tempering and hardening. He promises to strengthen us, to help us, to uphold us with His righteous right hand.
Ultimately, God ordains all our sufferings and all our blessings to be worked for good towards His divine purposes. God builds our characters by trials and tempering, and true blessings are best appreciated by men and women whose characters and wisdom have been fully formed by God’s means.
I would like to read a poem from an anonymous author about this subject:
When God wants to drill a man,
And thrill a man,
And skill a man
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways!
How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!
How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him
Into trial shapes of clay which
Only God understands;
While his tortured heart is crying
And he lifts beseeching hands!
How He bends but never breaks
When his good He undertakes;
How He uses whom He chooses,
And which every purpose fuses him;
By every act induces him
To try His splendor out-
God knows what He’s about.