Scripture: Romans 5:1-11
Observation: Paul begins by reminding us that we are not worthy of the love of God, but through Christ Jesus’s selfless death, we are made right with him. He encourages us to rejoice in the trials we face because they help us increase our endurance, develop our character, and strengthen our hope in salvation. He continues on to share that Jesus died for us at just the right time, making us friends of God.
Application: Yesterday, we talked about every impatient person’s favorite topic: waiting. Today, we get to talk about why waiting well is worth it.
If you spend any length of time with me, chances are I’ll talk about being a runner. (If any of you know me, you’re nodding your head right now. I know. I’m sorry. I hope we can still be friends.) I want to stop myself, but I just can’t. I love the whole process of running – the challenge, the pain, the elation, the mental toughness you develop by running more miles than some people drive in a day.
Long distance running is most definitely an endurance sport. It’s not about speed; it’s about tackling the distance. I firmly believe that almost anyone can run a marathon (and if you hang out with me for more than five minutes, I’m sure I’ll try to convince you to do it). The thing about long distance running is that many of us are capable of doing it, but few of us are willing to put in the time and effort to do it. For me, the reward of crossing the finish line after 26.2 long, grueling miles is worth the struggle.
That’s not always the case for other people. When I go on one of my “running a marathon will change your life” tirades with other people, I so often hear this: “Run a marathon? I can’t even run a mile! I hate it.” News flash: I always hate the first mile, too. Normally it takes me about three or four miles until my brain goes from “WHY THE HECK AM I DOING THIS?!” to “Hey, this isn’t the worst thing ever” to “Wow, I could do this all day!” It took me weeks to go from one mile to two, months to go from two to five, and years to go from five to 13.1 to 26.2. When we keep running, our endurance grows. It gets easier. We get stronger. The whole thing feels more natural. But we have to keep running. Too many of us quit before we really even get started.
Maybe you’re not a runner. That’s okay. (You should be! Let me train you! We can run a marathon together! It will be GREAT! Okay, I digress…) The truth that Paul talks about in verses 3 & 4 isn’t for runners. It’s for all of us. It’s for all of us who run away from problems and trials instead of run towards them. It’s for all of us who stop short instead of push through. It’s for all of us who focus on the fear of a challenge instead of the joy.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”
Take joy in your problems, Paul tells us. It’s only through problems that we can develop endurance. It’s only through endurance that we can build character. It’s only through our character that we can strengthen our hope in the Lord.
The very problems we think will break us will actually build us. The problems we think will destroy us will actually define us. Our problems give us purpose.
So, how are you approaching your problems today? With fear? With sorrow? With guilt? What about with joy? With perseverance? With strength? Remember: there is no problem too big for our God, the very one who sent his son to save us from our own sin. There is no problem too complex for our God, the very one who loves us dearly. There is no problem too complicated for our God, the very one who allows us to be restored through the death and life of Christ Jesus. There is NOTHING we can’t do in him and through him and with him.
Your problems give you a purpose. Approach them with joy, with strength, and with a confident hope that Jesus is fighting for you. He’s cheering you on, he’ll see you through, and he’ll make you better for every brave, bold step that you take.
You got this.
Prayer: God, it can be so easy to let our problems define us, overwhelm us, destroy us. But I pray that you would allow me to rejoice in my trials. Replace my doubts with steady perseverance and strength to carry me through. Help me see the purpose in all of my problems, to keep pushing, to keep moving, to keep running towards the prize you’ve promised us: eternal life with you.