"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the Glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who is given unto us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us."
There is so much in these verses to reflect on. First, at a time when we thought we were strong in our own power, God's Spirit began His work in our hearts. He knew we were without the strength we needed to live life for Him, so He sent His son to He die for us! How amazing that God chose to demonstrate His love while we were still deep in our sin. Just think, He didn't die for "good" people. He died for the ungodly! That means He died for the liar, the murderer, the selfish, the self-centered, the mean, the abusive, the neglectful, the critical, the jealous, the addict, the promiscuous, and the greedy. He even died for people so steeped in idolatry that they try to fill God-given needs apart from Him. God did not wait for us to get better, He chose to show us His powerful sacrificial love when we were at our worst, still selfishness, rebellious, and prideful. Then through faith in Christ's death and resurrection He declared us righteous, giving us His peace. We're no longer His enemies and have unlimited access to Him by faith. We can rejoice because we have a hope not based on us, but on an all-powerful glorious God, who defeated sin and death and who is forever true to His word.
He gives us the ability to approach trials with unlimited hope. The Bible makes it clear that in this life we're going to experience difficult circumstances, unmet needs, strained relationships, illness, and persecution. It also makes it clear there is an eternal purpose behind painful trials. Trials, no matter what they are, develop in us perseverance when we trust God during them. By persevering we will develop godly character, which will produce hope in our hearts. Essentially trials are personal invitations to walk more intimately with God. As I tell Him about my fears, worries, or frustration He strengthens me and gives me His wisdom and His strength. The very trials we want to avoid or end are the means in which we are allowed to experience God and His power. We need to realize that turning to God when things look impossible is what causes faith to mature and our relationship with God to deepen. Trials have the potential to increase hope in God, purifying hearts and minds as they bring to the surface things like doubt, unbelief, or anger caused by pride. As we choose to walk through tough experiences with God. we find Christ infusing His love in our hearts. Experiencing His love and His grace allows us to worship Him with pure hearts. The love the Holy Spirit sheds in our hearts allows us to feel loved, accepted and cherished by our heavenly Father. Then and only then are we able to understand His love enough that we can respond to Him in love and are able to love others the way He intended us to – sacrificially, completely, and without fear.
So, what will we do when we face trials? Will we choose to trust God and allow the Holy Spirit to refine us and fill us with His love? Will we stand firm and rejoice in the hope of the Glory of God?
Prayer: Thank you so much, Father, for sending us your son. Thank you that he was willing to demonstrate your sacrificial love for us while we were still in a state of rebellion and sin. Thank you for declaring us righteousness and giving us a sense of purpose. Thank you that even our trials have significance. May your perfect work of developing patience and a strong hope be done in us. Thank you for shedding your love in our hearts that we may experience it and give it away. Amen.
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