The Promise of Perseverance
I had the opportunity to speak at a women’s retreat in Prescott, Arizona. The conference spanned Friday to Sunday and I spoke four times. The theme of the conference was “Enduring Hope” and the circumstances surrounding my invitation were nothing short of God orchestrated! They had chosen Romans 5:3-5 as their passage: “Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces 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 whom he has given us” (NASB).
Given my long-standing history with suffering, I was familiar with this passage. As I began to dig deep into it, asking the Holy Spirit to give me fresh insight, while pouring over commentaries and podcasts, a few things jumped out at me that I’d love to share with you.
First, I strongly felt the Holy Spirit urging me to lead a public invitation for salvation on the first night of the conference. I know this thought was Spirit led because I have never done this publicly, I always feel slightly uncomfortable when speakers do this, and the traditional formula for doing this is to wait until the end of the conference to extend the invitation.
In verse 5, it says, “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us.” It is talking about the personal experience of God working in our lives because of the justification we have received with God through His Son Jesus Christ (vs. 1).
Without first receiving this justification through Jesus Christ (salvation) I knew it would be impossible for women to understand this chal-lenging concept of having joy in our sufferings. It is something we can only experience and begin to understand because of the Holy Spirit that is given to us as a deposit when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
The second point that jumped out at me is that we must only persevere through difficult things in life. It seems like an obvious point, but it’s important to chew on for a minute. Perseverance is a character quality that most of us would like to have in our lives. But the road to getting there is not easy. Therefore, we must joyfully welcome the suffering that comes into our lives with the fore-sight of the perseverance that it will produce.
Then, once we’ve continued through the suffering we will see that we have character. A more accurate way of phrasing this is how the original text says, “proven character.” It’s character that has been through the testing and refining process. To prove that gold is genuine, it requires an intense season of heating up and cooling down. The Christian music group Need to Breathe has a song called Hard Love featuring Lauren Daigle and in it they have the powerful phrase: It’s not enough to just feel the flame / You’ve gotta burn your old self away.
We do that, so that the only reflection we can see at the end of our suffering is one of genuine faith. A faith that is proved more valuable than any gold or silver.
And then, as we see that our faith is real, that brings us great hope. Hope that we will need the next time we are tempted to despair when suffering enters our lives.
This process is cyclical, not linear, as I was tempted to think of it when I first read it.
I’m so thankful that verse five is also included in this passage because, honestly, when the suffering re-enters my life and the hope I had felt becomes a distant memory, it can be tempting to doubt how genuine my faith really is.
That is when God gives us these perfectly timed gifts of pouring out His love into our hearts. It’s an experience that cannot be logically or formulaically produced. It is personal, real, and life changing. And it will produce in you an enduring hope.
Adriana Hayes is a regular columnist for , freelance illustrator, professor, writer, and speaker who finds joy in helping others discover how God can bring “chronic hope” into their lives. She lives in Brookfield, Wisconsin, with her husband, Chris, and three daughters. For more information visit her website at: chronichopeblog.wordpress.com