“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Rm 5:3-4)
The Positive Results of Suffering
After discussing the fourth result of justification—joy in the midst of suffering—Paul said how suffering affects a person. Paul explained the chain reaction that starts when Christians suffer.
“We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Rm 5:3-4)
1) Suffering Leads to Perseverance
Here, perseverance really means single-mindedness. Suffering makes us focus on what is really important and keeps in mind what is really lasting, and helps us to re-align our priorities.
When we face troubles or problems in our lives, we first try to solve them on our own. If that doesn’t work, then we try to get help from others. And, when there’s nothing we can do, only then do we turn our eyes to God and seek help from Him. That’s the time we experience His presence in our lives the most.
So, hardships remove distractions and make us focus on God. And, when we focus on God and the promises that He will keep, we can persevere and continue to follow Him despite all the difficulties ahead of us.
2) Perseverance leads to Character
That perseverance strengthens our character. Our character develops as we go through various experiences.
The more we persevere in suffering, the more we focus on God and experience Him working in our lives, and the more we experience God, the more we’ll follow Him and be like Him. In other words, we grow spiritually through our difficulties.
Even though there are many reasons God allows us to undergo suffering, one of the reasons is that He trains us through suffering in order to ultimately lead us to Him.
The author of Psalm 66 said,
“For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.” (Ps 66:10-12)
So, when God allows us to suffer and puts us in difficult situations, we should still believe that God is good and has a special plan for us. If we really trust that His plan for us is not to harm us, but to give us hope and a future, we can endure suffering, and that endurance shapes our character to be more like Jesus.
3) Character Leads to Hope
The last result of the chain reaction that occurs when Christians suffer is that all this leads to growth in hope. Hope is an assurance of and confidence in the future glory we’ll ultimately have in the kingdom of God. Suffering drives us to the place where we find real hope, confidence and certainty—God.
So, here is Paul’s amazing assertion. When he shows that suffering starts a chain reaction that eventually leads to hope, he is saying that the benefits of justification he mentioned above such as peace with God, joy, entering and standing in grace, and the hope of the glory of God, these benefits of justification are not diminished by suffering, but rather enlarged by it.
In other words, if we face suffering with a clear grasp of who God is, what He’s doing in our lives right now and what He will do for us in the end, our joy and hope in suffering will be even deeper.
Therefore, we don’t have to be afraid of the suffering we’ll face when we follow Jesus in the world. Rather, we can rejoice and be glad in suffering because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.