“And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. 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.”
– Romans 5:3-5 CSB
In this life, our faith is often tested. Some days, from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep, it seems to be an endless battle and a journey of affliction. Those are the days we often dread with good reasons of course. We may wonder why God is allowing us to go through so much, even before we’ve reached lunch hour at work. And we wonder, when will it end?
But what if we learned to look at our afflictions differently? What if, instead of looking at them from a victim’s perspective, we were to look at them from a victor’s perspective? The victim sees nothing but trouble and things happening to him while the victor sees opportunities and things happening for him. Opportunities you say? Yes, opportunities! Opportunities to grow in faith, to draw closer to God, to learn to wait on Him, to prove to the enemy that God is able, and come out victorious.
This seems to be Paul’s understanding as well. In Romans 5:3-5, the apostle Paul sees great benefits and opportunities in his afflictions, so much so that it causes him to rejoice. Yes, rejoice! As crazy as that may sound, Paul tells us to rejoice in our afflictions. You see, there’s often a hidden treasure in afflictions. When we feel overwhelmed, afflicted beyond measure, and on the verge of the breaking point, that’s when we are perfectly positioned to turn to God. That’s when God gives us His strength in place of our weakness and we are able to endure the situation ahead of us. It may be hard, it may even feel as if we are facing an uphill battle but in the end, our character will have been perfected because we have learned to depend on God, to trust Him, and to face our afflictions from a place of faith. In this process, our character has the opportunity to resemble more of Christ’s character: humble, meek, gentle, patient and faithful. That is the real reward of persevering in times of affliction. That is why we need to rejoice.
As our character develops and becomes more like Christ’s, we become stronger and confident in God as He carries us, sustains us and helps us to endure difficult situations. Our faith then carries us through the crisis, resulting in hope, hope that is confident and creates an expectation that God will do what He said He would do. This hope is what keeps us going, it’s what causes us to believe that indeed Great is His faithfulness. It is what causes us to believe even when there is no reason left to believe. And this hope will never disappoint as the scripture tells us because God has poured out His love in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Because of this hope, we can shout “Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Psalms 146:5). And because of this hope, we can trust that our faith will triumph.
So friend, the next time you find yourself in a crisis, in affliction, don’t despair but instead rejoice. Rejoice as the victor who sees an opportunity to once more hope in his God, to prove Him, and see his faith triumph.
The process that leads to hope will also lead you to victory.
you are my victory banner! I praise you for my afflictions because I know they are opportunities for me to build my faith and triumph over the enemy. I praise you Lord for the hope you have created in me. May I always see my afflictions as opportunities to draw closer to you rather than as mere troubles. Please teach me to endure in times of crisis and allow you to perfect me. Let endurance have its full effect on me so that I may become mature in the faith and complete. Help me to always keep a victor’s mentality and to believe in you even when there seems no reason to. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
James 1: 2-4