“And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”Romans 5:2b-4
The book Green Leaf in Drought by Isobel Kuhn tells the true account of Arthur and Wilda Mathews and their daughter, Lilah, a young missionary family sent to China with China Inland Mission in 1950. They arrived just as other CIM missionaries fled the cruelty of the newly formed People’s Republic of China. Soon the Mathews family and a few others were held by the Red Regime, which deliberately tried to starve them. After two years of praying for escape, they read in Ephesians 5:10, “find out what pleases the Lord.” They saw that Jesus “had left heaven not [merely] submitting to the will of God, but delighting in it,” and they prayed for the desire to remain and to rejoice in their sufferings.
Romans 5:1-2a is rich with the blessings we enjoy in Christ: being justified through faith, knowing peace with God, having access by faith and His grace. It also says that “we rejoice in hope,” by way of an unexpected courier—suffering! When the heat of trials is turned up, it produces what we need: perseverance, character, and finally, hope.
When we see suffering as a process ending in hope, not only can we submit to the will of God, but also we delight in it.