“….. we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance.” Romans 5:3
I find this a most extraordinary verse, which to be honest, we could easily turn a blind eye to, if it had not been written by the Apostle Paul. But this was no empty boasting on Paul’s part, because if ever a man had known suffering, it was Paul. He outlines something of what he had been through in 2 Corinthians 11. He had been punished severely by religious or governmental authorities on more than one occasion. He had been beaten and stoned and shipwrecked. He had been cold and hungry. He had known many sleepless nights. He had been imprisoned – in fact, he had faced perils of all kinds and in all places, and he had been exposed to death again and again. His life then was by no means characterized by luxury and much comfort, or even a lot of rest, and all this because he had given his life over to serving the Lord Jesus Christ. He admitted too that he faced daily the pressure of concern for all the churches. So when this man writes about tribulations, we know that his are not empty words, but he is speaking out of his own bitter experience. But please notice how, instead of complaining about his suffering and his trials, and instead of seeing them as an evil to be endured as stoically as possible, Paul saw his suffering as working FOR him and not against him, and therefore Paul saw his suffering as something to rejoice in, because he recognized that behind it, there was a divine rationale. He saw it as a way in which God was maturing his Christian character.
Interestingly, the English word ‘tribulation’ is derived from the Latin word ‘tribulum,’ and in Paul’s day, a 'tribulum' was a heavy piece of timber with spikes in it used for threshing the corn or grain. The 'tribulum' was drawn over the grain and it separated the wheat from the chaff. And what Paul was saying here therefore was that, as we go through the ‘tribulum’ of trials, our faith is purified. None of us wants to go through times of adversity, but if we understand that God is working for our good in our suffering, then like the Apostle Paul, we will be able to rejoice in it.
And so during this time of pressure that we are all experiencing, it might be good for us to ask ourselves, “How am I behaving under this trial?” “Am I rejoicing is all that God is doing through it?” “Am I rejoicing in the fact that this trial is bringing me closer to the Lord, and making me more like the Lord?" "Am I rejoicing that this trial is building my Christian character?" That surely is what Paul is encouraging here.
LET US LOOK AT OUR TROUBLES AND SEE THEM AS 'LIGHT' IN WEIGHT COMPARED TO ALL THAT GOD IS DOING IN US THROUGH THEM.