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Romans 5:3-5 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produced 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, who he has given us.


What is the difference between a non-Christian and a Christian? The foundation of their hope. Without hope, we find ourselves in a fatalistic world, self-centered and consuming, without a goal or direction. Like a marathon runner, the pain of practice is a requirement to gaining the strength and confidence to finish the race.


Romans 8:18-21 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.


The Apostle Paul points out one of the key elements of understanding our God. It is that God wants us to each have an eternal life. In our human state, we cannot experience this greatest of gifts from God. We need to be “liberated” as Christ was in His own resurrection. It is pointed out that we do not seek the “hardships” given to us but, instead, they are all part of God’s plan. How can hardships, pain, suffering and frustration bring us to eternal life? Only through our faith, reliance on Christ and our response while in this world.


2 Corinthians 12:7-10 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.


The Apostle Paul shares with us an insight into his life. He was burdened by some ailment that caused him to call out to the Lord for relief. In Christ’s day, to plead with God meant days of fasting and prayer. Paul was tormented to cause him to do this three times. In Christ’s answer is the wisdom Paul gained. When we are burdened, heavily burdened, we should rely fully upon Christ. When we do, we have Christ’s power and strength on our side. Therefore, hardships that drive us closer to the Lord should bring rejoicing since while we lose worldly strength, we gain true strength through Christ.