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Transformed through Suffering

In Romans 5:3-5 (, Paul wrote that suffering can result in very good things … perseverance, character, and hope. How can that be?

The key is found in Romans 5:3 … “we also rejoice in our sufferings …” This does not mean that we rejoice because we are suffering or at the sufferings themselves. Suffering was not part of God’s original design. It’s purely the result of our fallen nature. Only a masochist rejoices in his own suffering … and that mindset is decidedly unnatural and unhealthy.

No. We are not called to say, “Great! Praise God, I’m feeling terrible!” That’s ridiculous. But we are called to praise God in the midst of our sufferings. We are to keep our focus and our attitude right. And that is the entire key to turning suffering from a tragedy into a blessing.

First, our focus. If we are rejoicing, we’re directing praise and thanksgiving to someone … namely, to God. Therefore, to say that we are to rejoice in our sufferings is to say that we are to keep our eyes focused on God. Suffering, in our human nature, turns our focus inward: like a wounded animal, we curl in around our pain. But God calls us to look upward to him, and to keep our eyes focused on him.

Second, our attitude. We’re to look up at God, not with resentment and bitterness, but with praise and thanksgiving. We are to rejoice. At what? At what he provides us in the midst of our suffering: his presence, his promises, his grace, his strength, his comfort.

If we do those two things: keep our focus and our attitude correct, then suffering will not destroy us: it will transform us.

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