“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)
God has not only provided the gift of a baby this Christmas, He has also provided the gift of a perfect example of living life His way.
God knows us so well. We can be so predictable. Since the beginning, God has known that what we see, we desire; what we focus on, we are drawn to; and what we think about, we become. While after generations of other Christ followers, we have current day examples from whom to learn; through the Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus, we still have the perfect example to follow.
Ultimately, Jesus taught us to love one another. That love is shown through sharing the truth of His Word, serving those in need and suffering for the good and glory of God. Sharing the truth and serving others are easy when there is no resistance; no temptations, trials or troubles in our life. But add suffering to the mix and things can suddenly change.
Our character is who we are at all times. Does suffering cause you to change your words, actions and behavior? Can your outlook on life go from rosy to bleak in the blink of an eye?
Through the gift of Jesus, the living example of God’s grace, truth, love and righteousness, we can see a man just like us. He had family, friends, celebrations and troubles. He worked, was tired, hungry, in need of alone time and rest. But nowhere does Jesus complain about the troubles He faced. He talked about the reality of the troubles, but He did not complain. Why not?
He knew these troubles had to take place. He had absolute certainty that God would see Him through His suffering and God’s purpose through Him would be accomplished. That is joyful hope!
There is a difference between wishful thinking and certain hope. Wishful thinking leaves room for worry and doubt. What we hope for might not really be true. But, if we profess to believe in the hope God’s love for us has accomplished through Jesus, we will have peace because what we believe is true. We are resolved to continue in the path God has laid out before us regardless of our problems.
How do we know if we simply wish or truly hope in the truth of Jesus? By how we stand up under suffering. Do we worry or rejoice? It is easy to rejoice and be glad in good times but can we still do this when times are difficult, conditions unfavorable and our circumstances down-right painful?
As we allow Christ’s example to be our reality, our character grows and becomes more like His. He trusted the Father completely, seeking His will and following His lead. He trusted in the hope that through His suffering, we would come to know the Father and His love for us.
Something to Consider…
Jesus willingly endured for our benefit and He patiently showed us grace and mercy in our weakness. God has poured is love out for us through the blood of Jesus and in that we can have true joy and gladness regardless of our circumstances.
Consider your temptations, trials and troubles. How can you rejoice because you have hope that through your suffering, you can lead others to Jesus?