In the pop culture of professional sports, we have recently crowned champions in hockey and basketball. Each athlete who competed in these finals undoubtedly put in countless hours of practice to hone their skill and build their strength and endurance to get them to the pinnacle of their sporting achievement. All their hard work paid off, but in the moment, they may have felt like their rigorous training regimen was more like suffering than a path to greatness. However, their persistence through this ‘suffering’ and difficult work built their character. In the beginning verses of Romans 5, Paul says he ‘boasts’ in his faith and hope that are found in what Christ has done for us. Because he recognizes the place where this undeserved privilege through Christ puts him before God, he is also able to ‘boast’ in his sufferings. Paul links suffering to hope by way of learning endurance and character. What challenges are you facing right now that are stretching your character, building your endurance, and giving you reason to hope?
Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom,so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuouslycontend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.