Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

December 04, 2004

Tribulation, Perseverance, Character, Hope

Went to a men's group breakfast today. I used to attend this all the time, but haven't in quite a while. They're tackling Phil Strout's God's Relentless Pursuit, which is about being a missional people in the everyday world (not just in exotic mission fields).

We talked a lot about the frustrations and stresses of the daily grind, and I read Romans 5:3-4 to the group--you know, the verse about tribulation leading to perseverance, and perseverance to character, and character to a hope that does not disappointment, for it is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

Well, I read it, and I acknowledged that it is sometimes a hard verse for us to "receive," and we talked about that for a while. Then, after the meeting, I came home and did some blog-surfing and stumbled across this post from the excellent blog of Kelli Standish, and it just happens to be about that very trouble we have in hearing the truth of this particular Scripture passage.

I also ran into this from John Piper's daily devotional, A Godward Life:

Paul has just said that "tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint" (verses 3-5). In other words, the goal of everything God takes us through is hope. He wants us to feel unwaveringly hopeful through all tribulations.

But how can we? Tribulations by definition are anti-hope. If they felt hopeful in themselves, they wouldn't be tribulations. What's the underlying secret of actually growing in hope through tribulation?

Paul answers in the next line: "Because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has given to us" (verse 5). God's love has been poured out in our hearts. The tense of this verb means that God's love was poured out in our hearts in the past (at our conversion), and it is still present and active.

So Paul's point is that the Spirit-given assurance and enjoyment of the love of God are the secret to growing in hope through tribulation. Tribulation works perseverance and proven character and unashamed hope because, at every point along the way, the Spirit of God is assuring us of the love of God in and through all the trouble.
The Love of God is a current of wonder, a stream of living water, a source of strength, ever-present, ever-abundant, rushing from the very throneroom of heaven. To trust Him means to trust Him now, in the midst of your storm. "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! He has overcome the world." John 16:33b


Blogger Hollins Williams said...

What do you do when your tribulation endures for 20 years and there is no sign of relief? God is sovereign; He loves me; He is making all things work together for good (and conforming me to the image of His Son). However, I would prefer healing. Some things last too long and are too discouraging and depressing.

9:46 PM  
Anonymous james b scott said...


I should like to add a thought, if one would look to hebrews 11 there are 3 kinds of faith. heb 11:1-16 is what I call foundation faith, v 17-35 is what I call realized faith, v 36-39 is what I call perseverance faith.

Saddly most people don't see v 36-39 for what God Himself intends it to be, a faith journey that He chooses for those who can bear it. For I know that the author and finisher of my faith will lay no more on me than I can bear with His help.

In answer to the above ?, if the tribulation continues endure and know that in the end of all things God is using this temporal world as a womb of sorts to prepare us for the eternal existance we will have with him. Just as the babe in the womb does not like that which the mother has chosen for nutrition, said nutrition sustains and shapes the babe.

Rest assured that God is not a careless parent and He does nothing without our eternal good in mind.

Perhaps as Christ Himself has been through all things and can offer to us sustinance in a time of need, you are there in the midst of what you are so as to offer to someone near you the very same eternal hope you yourself have.

Without going into detail, there is a thing that is well into it's 13th year with our family and God's answer is very much the same when I speak with Him about it.


Without fail almost every day there is a happening which can only be seen as a God ordained time to influence those about us who have not had the blessing to come to know him personally and they are very much watching with great intent and they ask ?. When they get answers, the blessing is that they have asked the ? and so the door has been opened for them to hear of the hope that can not be seen with the senses.

May God both bless and keep you in the trials in which you are going through.

james scott

5:09 PM  

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