Character Comes From Hope

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3–5 ESV

Christians are peculiar people.

  • Who rejoices in their suffering for the gospel?
  • Who gets excited about being beaten for sharing Jesus (Acts 5:41)?
  • Who is content with their calamities like being shipwrecked, bitten by a snake, or thrown in jail (2 Corinthians 12:10)?

Disciples of Jesus, that’s who!

Today’s devotional verses challenge me. The Bible is a mirror that lets you see what’s really in you. And as I read Paul’s words to the church in Rome, that we should rejoice in suffering, I see a tainted reflection.

One of the primary idols I battle—and I think most of the Western Church battles—is comfort.

I like to be comfortable, so much that I have sacrificed obedience to Jesus to stay safe, warm, and fuzzy in my cocoon of comfort. However, Paul shows us what embracing suffering for Jesus’ sake leads to.

What Suffering Is Paul Talking About?

First, understand Paul is talking about productive suffering. It means an “oppressive state of physical, mental, social, or economic adversity” for advancing the gospel.

It’s about embracing the discomfort that comes to living faithfully to Jesus, no matter how mild or extreme. Paul explains in Philippians 1:12–14 that our suffering actually advances the gospel!

What Does This Suffering Produce?

Why is this suffering productive? Because it leads to a chain reaction of spiritual depth and growth.

Check it out. Paul tells us:

  1. Suffering leads to endurance…
  2. Endurance leads to character…
  3. Character leads to hope…

Christians are different ducks because we see physical, mental, social, or economic persecution as proof that we’re making headway against hell. Satan doesn’t want people to have eternal life in Jesus, so he wages war against us through the world’s systems (1 John 2).

Our radically different mindset on suffering and discomfort creates a gritty endurance. Like an ultra-marathoner running across arid deserts, we gain the strength to keep moving.

This endurance then produces character that is battle-tested, showing us that yes, we are in fact becoming more like Jesus! We will grow in the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23).

…and this Christ-likeness creates a hope that Jesus is who he said he is… will do what he’s promised… and we have eternal life hidden in him (Colossians 3:3).

Friends, let’s renew our minds and embrace the discomfort that comes with following Jesus. That’s the refining fire.

Will you chase comfort or Christ, today?

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