Rom 5:3-5 “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
In order to understand what Paul is saying in verse three, we must look back to the first two verses of this chapter. We are told in these verses that we rejoice in hope of the glory of God through Jesus Christ. Then Paul essentially says “But that’s not all (not only so).” What he says next can be a bit surprising!
Not only do we rejoice in hope of the glory of God, but we also glory in tribulation. We are glad for the hope of the glory of God, certainly. However, not many of us are glad for (glory in) tribulations; at least not until we understand that this gladness also comes through Jesus Christ. It is in Jesus that we learn that tribulation (suffering, burden) accomplishes (worketh) patience.
Many of us grew up with the notion that desiring patience was equivalent to asking for trouble. To set things in their proper order, we must first realize that we do not have to ask for trouble: it is coming anyway. Jesus said that we would have trouble in this world. Believing that Jesus was telling us the truth, we understand that trouble is unavoidable.
Patience is, in essence, the way that God teaches us to meet tribulations. We can glory in tribulation because God has given us the means to face it. We learn to be patient. That does not simply mean that we are resigned to enduring tribulation because we have no other choice.
The meaning of the word translated here as patience is “a cheerful or hopeful endurance.” We meet tribulation with a cheerful expectation in the promise of Jesus that He has overcome the world. Patience enables us to face tribulation as a test or trial that builds character (experience). It is our experience in walking with the Lord that teaches us to put our trust in Him and to follow in His steps.
This experience that we gain through patience leads us to something vital for our daily living; hope. Hope is a pleasant anticipation or confidence. If we try to face tribulations without trusting God for patience, then we are going to find ourselves often feeling hopeless. We will fail to have the characteristic of trust in our Lord and Savior.
Hope absolutely assures us that we will not be left in disappointment (ashamed). We will not be fearful to tell others that our confidence is in Jesus and that He will then fail to help us. Instead, we will bear witness to a cheerful expectation that our experience is going to lead us further into a confident belief that He is our Deliverer in our daily tribulations. The outcome of this is that the very love of God is bestowed upon our hearts.
This outpouring of God’s love in our hearts comes through the Holy Ghost. It is a direct manifestation of God working in our lives and living in us. We do not receive the Holy Ghost because we have been patient or hopeful. The Holy Ghost is given us by God. All these things (patience, experience, hope, assurance) are ours as a result of God giving us the Holy Ghost!
As tribulations surly come, may God give us the grace to be glad in them because of the sure knowledge that they work patience (a cheerful expectation of the overcoming power of Jesus Christ), which builds experience (character), which leads to hope (a confident belief in the delivering power of God)!