When life falls apart, we tend to lose hope.  Whether that’s getting a flat tire (I just had one!), getting a headache, hearing tragic news, or losing your job, our response is often to recoil and lose hope.

When life falls apart, do you run to God or from Him?  Those are the only two options.  The biblical ideal is this: “we rejoice in our sufferings.” (Romans 5:3)  What?!?  Rejoice in our sufferings?  Isn’t that counter-intuitive?  How could somebody ever be joyful in the midst of pain?  Emotions aren’t something you can control, right?  They’re just a reaction, aren’t they?

Being joyful in the face of difficulties is a work that God must do in you.  It’s a process, and doesn’t happen overnight.

“Suffering produces endurance.” (Romans 5:3)  “Produce” implies that there is time between suffering and endurance.  No runner will tell you that they built up endurance in one week, or even in one year.  It takes a lot of time.  The same holds true for:

“Endurance produces character.” (Romans 5:4)  Former Princeton basketball coach, Pete Carril said, “Adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it.”  Hardships have a way of revealing the worst in us, but endurance in the face of them produces character.  This passage in Romans finishes with:

“Character produces hope.” (Romans 5:4)  What is that hope in?  That our sufferings are not in vain, but that they bring glory to God (Romans 5:2).  We rejoice because we are being made into the image of Christ, the One who died for us.  We don’t rejoice because we enjoy suffering.  We don’t hope because we think that life on earth will some day be rosy and easy.  We have hope because Christ died the death we deserve, and is shaping us into his image so that, when this life is over, we will be ready for an eternity with God.

In your suffering may you “not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,  as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

The next time that life falls apart, turn to God, and let Him do a work in you.  May your suffering ultimately produce hope in Christ.