And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4
Paul is explaining to the Romans that the development of hope in our lives is a process. There are four elements: tribulation, perseverance, character and hope. They work together in three steps:
- Tribulation produces perseverance
- Perseverance produces character
- Character produces hope
Hope is developed in us by a process. Helping the Romans understand this process and how to anticipate and respond to it is the goal of Paul’s encouragement.
I love hope! It makes it easy for me to find joy. When I am hopeful, I often am able to be excited and even giddy. But what produces hope – the parts of the process – those words make me feel something different. Perhaps words like “tribulation” or “perseverance” create the same internal or emotional response for you…
“…tribulation produces perseverance…”
My approach to life is generally one that seeks to avoid tribulation. But Paul is encouraging the community of Believers in Rome to approach tribulation by expecting it be productive in our lives. He is in some ways saying, “as Believers in Jesus, let’s view tribulation as an opportunity. Tribulation will produce perseverance, that is patience, in you.” What a different point of view! What if we were to let our internal response to tribulation be, “I can’t wait to see how much patience this is going to produce in me!”? And as perseverance is developed in response to tribulation, our mindset might just change in response to trials and troubles in our lives. May it be so!
“…perseverance produces character…”
If we can adjust our view on tribulation and see patience and perseverance be our response, Paul assures us that character follows. Character is our whole person – the way we think, feel and behave. If we allow troubles to produce patience, our character is formed, our whole person is bettered because of patience because of challenges in life. Perseverance in the face of tribulation produces a character in us that emanates and radiates the qualities of the LORD we serve. He was patient in the face of trouble and even death. And He endured it all for our sake. May we be the same way! Let us allow His character to be produced in us when we face challenges in the world and in our lives.
“…character produces hope…”
With our moral and mental attributes in the likeness of the Messiah, hope is the expected outcome. With our character fully formed and established, our disposition becomes one that is predisposed to hope. Even when things are hard. Even when everyone else around us is hopeless. Hope as an outcome of tribulation – a stunning thought and a brilliant insight. And an unusual approach.
If we go back to the beginning of this verse, I think Paul shows us a key to how the hope process works. He describes a “pre-condition” or “pre-disposition” that activates the process that leads to hope. He says, “we also glory in tribulations” as the pre-amble to the process. Our assumption related to trouble and challenges must be that we are going to “glory” in them. Excuse me? Can you say that again? I think I misunderstood you? We GLORY in tribulation. Why? Because our expectation is that hope will be the outcome. May it be so with us and with you. Today, in this season and always!
- Are you facing opportunities for perseverance in your life in this season? What are they?
- Is patience your expected outcome of trouble?
- In what ways is the LORD challenging your character in this season?
Are you inclined to hope? What is your expectation of troubles in life?