Dear friends, I want to address a question that
many misunderstand or perhaps are unwilling to confront. Spoken plainly, the
question is, “If God loves us, and God has saved us, why does he allow us to go
through suffering and tribulations?”
Perhaps first, we should ask and answer: what
exactly are “tribulations?” The Louw-Nida Greek dictionary says that “tribulations
are...that which causes pain.”
Your pain could be emotional or physical. It could be a longing unfulfilled or a physical ailment that you must endure.
Tribulations are most often brought about by external circumstances – you didn’t plan or intend for the pain, but in the course of life, pain happened!
If you stop and think about it, you could name many other causes of our tribulations.
Sufferings and tribulations aren’t new and they
aren’t uncommon. Ever since Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, the human race has
suffered the innumerable consequences of sin. The vast majority of us are peace
and comfort-loving people: we want to get over and get out of suffering as
quickly as possible. If it were up to us, we would avoid suffering altogether
and in fact, many of us (if we’re very honest) avoid suffering by any means
Some of these examples may seem extreme, but if you
examine your heart, you may find there is more truth to these sentiments that
you care to admit.
Due to our tendency to avoid suffering, when
tribulations come into our lives, our first thought is: “How can I make this
stop?” Often, our next thought is, “Why is this happening to me? God, this
seems unfair!” Our third response is usually some form of grumbling or
complaining or throwing a pity-party (poor me!) and praying to God to take away
With an ingrained attitude of ungratefulness
towards tribulations, how do we even begin to process a passage like Romans
5:1-11, especially verse 3?
As a believer, I need to learn to think about my tribulations the way that God
does. Therefore, I should ask myself, “How can I accomplish this task?”
The First Step to thinking correctly about
tribulations is to practice The Right Kind of Boasting.
You might be saying, “Wait
a minute...my Bible doesn’t say “boasting” – where did you come up with that?”
1. Definition of Sinful “Boasting”
How does Paul use the same word to describe a sinful attitude in some
men, yet a desirable trait in others? The key to the difference between sinful
and desirable “boasting” is in the object of the boast.
2. Definition of Righteous “Boasting”
The second step to thinking correctly about
tribulations is to see God’s purpose in them for you!
Why should we boast about tribulations? I thought we just wanted to get them over quickly?!?
Tribulations have a good result, if you let them!
we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love
God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of
His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also
justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
many Christians miss the point of these verses because they only quote part of
the verse. God’s overarching plan and purpose is revealed in v. 29; and our great
hope (glorification) is revealed in verse 30.
Because undergoing suffering is an essential part
of the Christian life, we should not be surprised if we find ourselves in and
out of periods of trials and tribulations. Take a moment and reflect on these
Let me leave you with these words from the Apostle
Paul: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though
our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
17 For momentary, light affliction is producing
for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
18 while we look not at the things which are
seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are
temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Dear friends, if this tribulation doesn’t change
you for the better, if it doesn’t conform you to the image of Jesus Christ,
then my friend, you have wasted this trial! Don’t waste it; use it for God’s
glory, for your transformation, for one day, when Jesus raptures His church,
all our trials will be over and we will have no more tribulations or sadness.
(Today may not be that day...but it could be!) Even so, come quickly, Lord
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