3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, 4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. 5 This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
I love a process. I love recipes, YouTube DIY videos, and the LEGO instruction booklets. It’s satisfying to know that if I follow the steps I’m given, I will end up with the completed product. You always see pictures of the finished pie, the renovated bathroom, and the LEGO castle, but all you have before you are the raw materials. It’s necessary to follow the instructions to achieve the desired outcome. The process puts the pieces together into something greater.
Paul shows what the finished product will be. The “hope of glory of God” in Romans 5:2 refers to the final judgment day. By faith in Jesus, God has justified us, given us peace with Him and access to Him and His infinite grace. In the end, we have nothing to fear, because God is moving us along on a trajectory that can only end in Christ-likeness. God has done and is doing this work in our lives, and we are receiving the benefits His work accomplished.
But what is the raw material that eventually ends up in peace, hope, and completion? Suffering. The process of the Christian life starts with suffering. It is the raw material God uses to transform us. Notice the process. Suffering produces endurance. Through suffering, we learn to rely on God for the strength to endure. That endurance procures character. There is a strength of character that is gained only from having endured the trials of this life, knowing that God has carried you through. And this kind of character produces hope. Hope because once you’ve gone through this process, you realize that God is worthy of the faith He asks of you. You’ve now experienced His faithfulness. So you put your hope in His promises, because through suffering you come to know at a deeper level who God is.
God uses the sufferings of our lives—perhaps the times when hope is the hardest—to increase our faith and hope in Him. This is how you and I are being transformed.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- What lessons have you learned from suffering?
- Are there things you learned about yourself and God on the other side of your suffering that you wouldn’t have known otherwise?
Talk to your child about the importance of process.
Start by talking about some of their processes they do, like getting dressed in the morning. What if they put their shoes on before their socks? Then, their feet would be stinky by the end of the day; or they might slip with their socks on top of their shoes! That would be silly. What if they brushed their teeth before they put toothpaste on their toothbrush? Their teeth wouldn’t get clean!
Walk through the process a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly. The caterpillar must eat a lot of food, so that it is healthy while in the cocoon. It must work hard to build a cocoon, so it has a safe place to be transformed. It must stay in the cocoon for a long time before the transformation into a butterfly can be successful and complete. It must slowly come out of the cocoon, so its body can adjust to the new environment. All these things must happen in this order before a beautiful butterfly can fly around in spring and pollinate the flowers.
How good is God to create a process for us to enjoy beauty of nature?! Like the butterflies, God allows us to go through a process that transforms us to look more like Him, so we can share His goodness with others: suffering builds endurance, endurance builds character, and character builds hope. Some of those steps are really hard to go through, but we have comfort and hope knowing that God’s plan is perfect, and He uses those things to transform us. Get outside and enjoy the plants and nature around your home, or in the park. Praise God for His goodness and willingness to transform us to be more like Him!