I talked about verses 6-8 in yesterday’s blog, but I think it would be good to place them back in their context, so that we can get the full picture of all that Paul is saying.
Paul was talking about how we can rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that sufferings produce perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
But for many Christians, they don’t rejoice in their sufferings; they become bitter. They don’t persevere; they give up. They don’t find hope; they despair.
Because they start to get the feeling that the reason they’re suffering is because God is punishing them. That because they messed up, God’s really angry and so he’s taking it out on them.
What’s even worse, though, is if they feel this way and they’re not even sure what they did wrong. Or they feel like God is punishing them unjustly.
But what is Paul saying here?
He’s telling them, “Get out of your heads the idea that God is punishing you.”
“Think about it,” he says. “Before you became a Christian, at a time when you had turned your back on God, and were utterly lost in your sin, Christ died for you. He didn’t wait for you to turn back to him. He didn’t wait for you to clean yourself up. Before you ever reached out to him, he reached out to you.
“Very rarely, will anyone will die for the ‘morally correct person,’ though some may die for the ‘good guy.’ But you were neither and yet God showed his love for you. He gave up everything for you.
“With that in mind, how can you possibly think that God has it out for you?”
Paul puts it this way,
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (9-10)
In other words, he’s already justified us. How can you then think he’s now pouring his wrath on you? We’ve been saved from that. And if God reached out to us when we were his enemies, won’t he reach out to us in our trials when we are his friends?
It is for these reasons that we can rejoice in our sufferings. God isn’t punishing us. Nor is he turning a blind eye to our circumstances. Rather, in the same way he saved us from our sins, he will deliver us from our trials. And so Paul can say,
Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Are you going through hardships? Are you wondering if God is punishing you? He’s not. If you have put your trust in him, he will bring you through the fire you’re passing through, and it will not consume you. Rather, it will purify you and make you stronger. So hang in there. Don’t lose hope. Keep putting your trust in God, and as Paul says,
Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (5)