Our culture today is becoming increasingly hostile toward those who believe and live out the principles of God’s Word. This hostility can be discouraging to those in the faith and could easily produce divisions in families, workplaces, and communities. Yet for the believer, we must look at the sufferings/persecutions as an opportunity for growing up in faith.
Sometimes people will look at this passage as dealing with the everyday struggles, trials and difficulties that we face in living life. While those are opportunities for us to grow into the image of God, Paul is describing suffering that is produced through persecution. Not necessarily the kind that hurts people’s feelings, but that their livelihood, safety, and even their own lives are in danger.
Paul understood both sides as a persecutor and being persecuted. He watched people who probably caved in their proclamation of faith and others who became strong. Wanting to help the church understand the right perspective of persecution and suffering for the faith, he says:
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3–5 (ESV)
Some believers likely thought that the afflictions that they were facing was a sign of God’s wrath. However, Paul teaches them to view suffering as a way to build their character. After all, afflictions were listed among the things that cannot separate Christians from the love of God. (Romans 8:35)
God still loves and cares for us deeply even when we are facing the hostility of the world around us. It is our responsibility to be steadfast in our faith so that we can learn to endure, develop character, and have hope. Why? Because our faith is based not on the acceptance of this world, but on the love of our creator.
We know that this gift of love is not only confirmed by the Holy Spirit, but is poured into our hearts as well. This is essential for us to fulfill the great commandment to love God and to love others. That love is the same kind of love that caused Jesus to forgive those who tortured and crucified Him.
Our love for the Father is the foundation for our ability to face any suffering or affliction that the world may throw our way. God has a purpose for our lives and that includes being steadfast regardless of the hostility of the world. We can do so because His presence will always be with those whom He loves.
We can rest assured, God is growing us. Trust Him no matter what comes our way!
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Thank you for reading, Growing up in faith!
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