Romans 5:1-2 - Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
These verses are bursting with the outcomes of salvation that come about through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ: peace, grace, joy, hope, glory, love—which are freely and fully a believer’s benefits to enjoy.
“Ah, yes”, some would say, “this is all grand and glorious-and true enough for the future. But what about the grim realities of the present?” Paul was no starry-eyed idealist, insulated from the troubles of this life. He knew what it was to have troubles, but in Romans 5:3-5 he speaks of exulting (rejoicing) in them, and then goes on to explain how this is possible.
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
In the Christian experience, trouble develops perseverance; perseverance develops strength of character; and character develops hope—a hope which, because it is based on faith in our gracious God, will never disappoint us.
So our troubles need not depress us, for we can regard them with joy, as opportunities for developing spiritual maturity.
Exulting in tribulation is something few of us succeed in doing. We tend to concentrate so much on our troubles that we forget the God who permits them to enter our experience.
Paul learned to “exult in…tribulations” the hard way, just as we do. He wrote to the Corinthians about a “thorn in the flesh” that was a messenger of Satan, but which God used to demonstrate Christ’s overcoming power.
When, after three desperate pleas for relief, the thorn continued, Paul realized that though Satan intended it to torment him, God could use it for his growth and God’s glory.
In God’s creation, He has given us an illustration of the same principle in the case of the pearl oyster. A sharp and irritating grain of sand sometimes gets under the oyster’s shell.
Instead of expelling it, the oyster surrounds it with a crystalline fluid that smothers the irritant, freeing it from friction and annoyance. But, beyond that, the rough grain of sand is transformed into a beautiful pearl.
Be careful how you handle the thorn that comes into your life. Through perseverance and faith, it may become the most valuable and precious experience you have ever had.
The confirmation of this truth in our personal experience is the work of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:5)