Romans 5:3-4 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (3) And patience, experience; and experience, hope: (4)
Have you ever noticed that discouragement is not brought on by happy times? Nor does discouragement appear in our lives while we are having a sweet walk with the Lord. Discouragement always comes when we are in the midst of some kind of trial. These trials come in various forms: long-term physical problems, relationship problems, work-related problems, family problems, money problems, etc. There is not a human being that has ever lived who has not been through trials or tribulation.
How, then, can we overcome these trials? Not everything in life has quick solutions. Nor are there answers to every question. However, the Bible says in Romans 5:3-4 that we should glory in our tribulations. I remember reading this and thinking to myself, “Is Paul nuts here?” There is no way that I can glory in this trial! I do not believe that Paul is asking us to do that. We must read the entire verse to fully understand what Paul’s intentions were. I believe Paul was telling us that we can glory in our trials because trials work patience in our lives. Why patience?
Let’s take the trial of being over weight and dieting. Dieting is not an overnight success. It’s an arduous and difficult thing to do. The weight loss is gradual and at times painful – especially when exercise must be done 🙂 Because of the amount of time it takes to lose weight, we can safely say that we have learned to be patient with the fact that we will not lose 20 lbs overnight. Many trials help us in the patience department.
I think of being persecuted by unbelievers at work as being a trial. Our patience with our co-workers will be a testimony to them when they think about how we did not fight back when we were criticized or when they poked fun at our christianity. There’s also the trial of being married to an unbeliever. The saved spouse surely learns patience as he/she tries to live harmoniously with that unbelieving spouse. That patience, again, is a testimony to the unbeliever.
Another difficult trial for the believer is the one of waiting on the Lord to answer our prayers. God does not always answer yes or no, or even answer quickly. If your trial today fits under this category, remember to trust the Lord. The first blog on “discouragement” touched on this. If we get discouraged because God has not answered our prayer yet or He did not answer it in the way we wanted, we are saying that we do not trust Him. Any of you who have children would be heart broken to see your child in a state of discouragement only to find out it is because he has sat up worrying or wondering if you were going to take care of him! Wouldn’t your response to your child be “You can trust me, honey.” My friend, your parenting skills cannot surpass the Lord’s parenting skills. How much more will He care for you?
Then Paul says that patience brings about experience. Experience, in my opinion, is the best teacher. Throughout my 26 years of salvation, I have seen God’s hand in each trial. You’ve heard the saying, “Hind sight is 20/20.” This should be true in the life of the believer. We should look back after each trial and recognize God’s hand in that trial. We should give Him the glory and honor for bringing us through it. When we recognize His work in our lives at the time of each trial, we form a pattern of history, if you will. Then when the next trial comes, we know through experience that God will take care of this one as well. How can we be discouraged if we know through experience that God will take care of us during this trial?
Paul ends the verses saying that experience will bring hope! Oh what a wonderful word! Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb 11:1) We hope in the fact that God will take care of our trial. We can’t envision how He will do it, but He will do it. If we have no hope, the Word says it is because we are not in our Bibles. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom 10:17) You shouldn’t have to wait on your Pastor to preach to you. The Holy Spirit should be preaching to you daily through your Bible reading. The only way to build your faith according to Romans 10:17 is by the Word of God. Do you have little faith? Then get in the Word, my friend. Faith is like a muscle, it must be exercised through the reading of the Word. Little faith equals little reading of the Word. Strong faith equals much reading in the Word. You will get what you put into it and more according to the Word. It is similar to the sowing & reaping teaching. You plant one kernel of corn and you reap a stalk with 3-4 ears of corn with about 800 kernels per ear. You sure do get a lot more reaping than what you have sown! God cannot be out done. If you trust Him, He will bless you. He will not leave you nor forsake you! Heb. 13:5
There are many Christians who are able to overcome trials and they do so because they are in the Word faithfully. They do not neglect the Word when times get rough. Going to God only when you’re in “need” is not the way to build your faith. It’s like only getting fuel for your car once you’re stalled out on the road. By that time, it’s too late. The problem is at hand. You get fuel before the fuel light comes on and avoid running out of gas on the side of the road. It’s the same with discouragement. Don’t turn to God only at the time of discouragement. You should be “fueling” yourself in the Word of God every day. This will prevent you from getting to that point where you feel like you can’t go on. Wouldn’t you hate it if your son or daughter only spoke to you or came to you when he/she was in trouble? On top of that, that same child would not trust you to be able to handle the problem? Again, the Lord is a much better parent than you could possibly ever be.
If you have a problem with discouragement, my friend, then the best scriptural advice I can give you is to get into the Word faithfully. You, too, will be able to say, “But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.” (Psa 73:28 )