“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
Paul begins our fifth chapter of Romans by savoring “the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2) we have through justification by faith in Jesus Christ. He savors the peace with God we have in Christ and the grace of God in which we now stand in Jesus Christ. There is so much to enjoy and savor given us by God as a gift.
But Paul carries on from there to “glory in our sufferings” (5:3). This may seem shocking. While it is understandable to glory in God’s peace, grace, and hope, to glory in suffering seems less understandable. But Paul ties together the hope of God’s glory flowing from the justification by faith with hope that arises amid suffering. If approached with long-term perspective and clinging to God, suffering can have a shaping influence in our lives that leads through perseverance and character to hope. In suffering we look for what is to come. Christian suffering, regardless of its cause, can lead us to look for our hope in God while also yielding to God’s work in us. We anticipate the hope of the glory of God yet to come.
We are upheld in this longing by the reality that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (5:5). The Holy Spirit is the indwelling presence of God and the “deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession” (Ephesians 1:14). But here, the Christian is sustained amidst suffering’s shaping by the love of God in the present brought home to us by the Holy Spirit’s presence in us. It is this manifest presence of God’s love that strengthens us in suffering to persevere, to grow, and to hope.