Life Problems and Love Poured Out (Romans 5:3-5)
Great tribulations for the Christian may come, will likely come. However, they cannot rob us of our standing in Christ. In fact, they serve to confirm our standing with God, as His grace supplies all that we need to face trials and troubles.
Having just spoken in verses 1-2 of the peace, access, grace, hope, and glory that the Christian has because of justification, the Apostle now explains that we have something more to boast and exult in, namely, tribulations. The Christian does not merely exult in spite of tribulations, but because of them or on account of them. More specifically, the Christian rejoices in trials because of the eternal benefit that results. Glorying in tribulations and suffering is the fruit of faith, and therefore, the way we respond to the difficulties of life reveals our standing with God.
Tribulations for the believer are the pathway to glory (c.f. Luke 24:26; Matt 5:10-12; Acts 5:41; James 1:2-3; Phil 1:29; 1 Pet 4:12-14; 2 Cor 4:17). The expectation is not that we have to like suffering or enjoy trials, but rather that we glory in them. Rather than thinking, “Come what may, I’ll try to be happy,” we should instead focus on the result, recognizing that we have hope because of the outcome and can therefore exult and rejoice in the midst of difficult circumstances. The glory is wrapped up in the idea that our steadfast perseverance leads to undeniable proof that we belong to God.
Having been put to the test and having come through it with “tried integrity,” we have a greater hope. We have a sure confidence that what God has begun in us, He will complete. Further, this hope “does not disappoint”—Paul makes a positive assertion by using the negative opposite, which serves to further underline the certainty of our hope. The idea from Paul is that for the Christian, trials and suffering do not result in discouragement, but they actually better establish us on our feet. They serve to further strengthen the certainty of our confidence and hope as one who belongs to Christ. Therefore, we do not just endure the trial, but we exult in it.
To be “poured out” refers to a profuse gushing forth, a filling up to overflowing, an overflow, or a lavishing. The ground for all of our assurance as Christians is that in this way, God has “poured out” His love for us. When Christ took up residence in us, He flooded our souls and He continues to flood our hearts with His love. The love of God is the supreme manifestation of divine goodness to sinners. As J.I. Packer has said, “God’s love is an exercise of His goodness toward individual sinners whereby, having identified Himself with their welfare, He has given His Son to be their Savior, and now brings them to know and enjoy Him in covenant relation.” His love for us, as most clearly revealed in Christ, is indescribable, unspeakable, unsearchable, and inconceivable (c.f. Ephesians 3:19). Still, we may know the reality of this incomprehensible love, even though we cannot know the fullness.
- What reasons do Christians have to exult in tribulations? How do you respond to tribulations? Do you complain, grumble, or despair? Do you just grin and bear it? Or do you exult, knowing that tribulations result in perseverance and ultimately greater hope?
- There is a vast difference between understanding that God loves sinners, and actually making your home in His love. Most of us believe that God loves us and sent His Son to die for us, but some of us have yet to get up out of our pitiful make-shift shanties and lay down to rest in the love of God. Have you come to rest in God’s love for us in Christ? Have you forsaken all hope in yourself and your own efforts, and trusted fully on Christ’s saving work through the cross?