“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience” (Romans 5:3).
One of the most powerful evidences of the saving power of the Christian faith is the ability of true Christians to endure suffering and loss with joy. The apostle Paul endured such (note II Corinthians 11:21–33) but could still “glory” in these sufferings. Actually this word in our text for the day is the same Greek word translated “rejoice” in the preceding verse, “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2), and “joy,” in a later verse, “we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:11).
This remarkable ability to rejoice in tribulation characterized not only great Christian leaders like Paul, but ordinary believers in every walk of life. When the early Christians lost their possessions in the great wave of persecutions they were encountering, the testimony was that “(ye) took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance” (Hebrews 10:34). These early believers, like many others through the years, “received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost” (I Thessalonians 1:6).
There is a good reason why Christians can endure tribulations with joy, “inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (I Peter 4:13). We always have the example and incentive of Christ Himself before us, “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
Therefore, we can be “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (II Corinthians 6:10), knowing that “the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10), and Christ has promised that “your joy no man taketh from you” (John 16:22). HMM