I shouldn't be surprised that every single sermon feels like it's being preached for my sanctification, but I am. We watched a sermon yesterday afternoon by Sinclair Ferguson in which he talked about how Jesus is really the one doing the speaking and His ministers are just that, His ministers. I don't know about you, but the sermon for me is just as powerful a time of worship as the singing. I say, "wow, Lord" over and over and over to myself as I hear His word preached and feel it pierce my heart. I really don't know how to condense this anymore. It was just so helpful.
Anyway, yesterday's sermon was no exception. The passage was Romans 5: 3-5:
"Not only that, but we rejoice in our tribulations, knowing that suffering produces patience, and patience produces character, and character produces hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
Remember the previous sermons where we learned about our new, changed state as Christians and how we are at peace with God and have full access to Him? Well, because of this new state, we are able to glory (rejoice!) in our present tribulations. Present. here. now. Contrary to what TV preachers like to say, it was never God's design to remove Christians from the trials of this world- we get sick, have accidents, are stolen from, etc just like unbelievers. In fact, in John 15:20 it says "they persecuted me, they will persecute you" because we stand for the truth. Then it goes on to say how blessed are you that you can withstand these things.
How can we rejoice when we are hurting? It's part of our new attitude, our new lives. We know these things and can stand on them. We can glory in tribulation because of what it produces in us. This word, "produce" repeated in Romans 5:3-5 is an action verb. It means doing and bringing results, it means to work down (like an algebra problem) to root conclusion of something. So, "Suffering works down to endurance, and endurance works down to character..." Tribulation means pressure. It comes from the Latin, "Tribulum" which was a heavy, sharp beam used for thrashing the grain. Used to press out the good grain from the chaff.
We all come under pressure. In the body of Christ, we need to come around those under pressure, those in tribulations, and help sustain the inner man through those pressures. I can't express how wonderful it is to have friends wash our dishes and help fix dinner as our family is going through this rocky time.
Tribulation produces, works down, to patience. Patience isn't just waiting for something. It means to remain under a great weight, like a pillar. Think of a great column that holds up the weight of the roof. Its function is to sustain the pressure of the weight (tribulation) above and transfer that force to the foundation below, which is a sure base. I thought this explanation of what a pillar does very inspiring as I thought about the verse in Psalms about daughters being a corner pillar in the home. We are to be patient- strong- sustaining.
Today we use the word "character" loosely. What it means in this passage though is amazing-- it means tested + approved in battle, reliable, proven. Experienced. When we learn to be patient and see God bring us through tough times, our faith is strengthened. Our faith and God's faithfulness to us has been tried and proven. We have a more sure understanding of God's goodness. We know we are the genuine article and have a confident expectation that God will grow us.
We can glory in tribulation, also, because we know what we will experience-- verse 5 tells us! Hope will not disappoint, but God's love is poured out on us. His care in our suffering gives us a transcendent radiance because we experience God's face in our trials. We have a better awareness of the Lord in our life. We can rejoice-- glory!-- in our tribulations because we know it is producing patience in us.
Shirt: Charity Shop ($1) It has shoulder pads!! O.o
Belt: Charity Shop ($2)
Earrings: Forever21 ($4)