Finish this sentence: “Time flies when you’re __________________.”
Having fun — how true is that? Think of the best memories from your life. You probably felt like they went by in a flash. Have you noticed that, by and large, the opposite is also true? Time seems to slow down when you’re not having fun. Let me give you some examples from my life that you might be able to identify with…
Truthfully, this is a biblical concept. Pain takes time. It lasts a while. It can easily rob us of joy. Even the most temporary pain is a happiness thief. Ever get dressed up for a big event, look in the mirror and think to yourself, “Looking good”, only to turn around and stub your toe on the dresser?
In that moment, all of your theology and spirituality goes flying out the window. You forget how good you felt. You wonder if Jesus is even out there. You question if God is on his throne. You ponder the existence of life. Pain can be a happiness thief, but God doesn’t want us to waste it.
Romans 5 gives us God’s plan for our pain, and it’s deeply rooted in the gospel. It reveals to us a great purpose for the difficult days we encounter. Here are some conclusions I found as I studied these verses.
FIND YOUR TRUE IDENTITY IN CHRIST (Romans 5:1-2, 6-8)
If you don’t know who you are in Christ, your suffering will never make sense to you. You’ll be grasping for self-worth anywhere you can find it, but the only place it can be found is in Jesus.
That’s what Paul gives us as the bedrock of the passage: the Gospel. We are declared “not guilty” in heaven’s courtroom because of Jesus (verse 1 & 6-8), and we have faith (verse 2) not in ourselves but in One much bigger and more powerful: the God of the Universe.
DEVELOP ENDURANCE (Romans 5:3)
We need to realize that life is a marathon, not a sprint. He helps us weather future storms through present storms. It’s this way with life and with faith. Endurance doesn’t magically appear overnight; it comes though real life circumstances. God is teaching you to have a lifelong faith – not a “on one day and off the next” faith. He does this through a lot of things, but trials are some of the foremost tools He uses.
STRENGTHEN CHARACTER (Romans 5:4)
When you find your identity in Him, and you develop endurance through trials, you are molded into who God has designed you to be. Gold is refined by fire. God uses those difficult days to make you look more and act more like His Son Jesus. Many of you in this room can attest to this. You could probably come up here one by one and share how a circumstance made you into who you are today. God’s plan for the pain: strengthened character. Mettle-tested, refined, God-honoring, Christ-resembling character.
GROW IN HOPE (Romans 5:4-5)
You may wonder, “how does my hope increase through pain?” Well, it reminds you every day that there is more to life than this temporary earth. You know that you weren’t made for this world. You LONG for the day that Christ returns! You anxiously await heaven.
SAVOR HIS PRESENCE (Romans 5:5)
One of the greatest things Jesus did for us is He sent His Holy Spirit to live in us. God’s presence is with us wherever we go. That’s a promise we can bank on. And this will never disappoint! (see Romans 8:9-11)
Do these ideas resonate with you? What did you pull out of the passage? What did God teach you today? Share it with us in the comments section below.
By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor