1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and 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 5:1-5
Through my online reader I see headlines from several national newspapers. When I see what interests me I go to it. But after I reach the mark of “ten articles per month” my access is limited. It is so disappointing to click on an article and then see the screen popup with the message: “For only $___ a month you can get unlimited access.” You see my frugality now.
Thankfully, God is not like this. When difficulties and challenges arise we do not run out of access to God. Through Jesus we have access to God the Father. We obtained access to this grace, the peace with God through Jesus Christ, by faith in Him. Access does not run out. We have unlimited access. This is good news to me because the challenges that produce pain for me have not run out either.
Discipleship through challenges
The text describes a massive feedback loop essential to discipleship: A challenge, and then rejoicing because we have knowledge of a process and the experience of God’s love.
The process: 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.
The experience: Love poured into our hearts. Jesus Christ mediates our access to God and has made peace. Our access to God is reality by the Holy Spirit. He has poured God’s love into our hearts. God’s love that takes the shame out of our suffering. God’s love that moves us into a growing, persisting, full, and hopeful life when we are hurt.
To rejoice in our sufferings seems ludicrous and impossible were it not for a firm conviction of God’s love for us through Christ Jesus and our unlimited access to Him.