“Not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” 

Romans 5:3-5


There are some painful and difficult things in our lives, which if we only got down to business and pray about them, would go away.


The widow pestered the unjust judge and kept at him until he took care of her need.


Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the Lord over the problem he had with his brother Esau. And Jacob refused to let go of the angel until he got his answer.


And then there are obstacles that clutter our path, and sap our strength, and slow us down, and confuse our minds, which really have no right to be there, and we have no business to let them be there.


You’re moaning and groaning in your heart because of your husband’s thoughtlessness.


But when’s the last time you really got down on your knees and really prayed for that man?


And maybe you do have some reason to lament your wife’s attitude. How much have you really put into your prayers for this woman?


You’re worried about your child...


You’re troubled about that disintegrating friendship...


You’re frustrated by the emptiness inside your soul...


Some of these prayers that you pray about these matters can hardly be called prayers: They are an insult to God.


Then, one day, perhaps after months or even years of misery you finally pull yourself together and really pray.  And to your amazement the earth begins to quake, wind blows, and  things begin to happen.


And you say to yourself, “Why didn’t I start sooner?”


“Why don’t I always draw near to God and pray as He tells me to?”


“Why does it always take some kind of catastrophe for me to draw near to my Lord as I should be all the time?”


And yet, there are other things in our lives that all the prayer in the world won’t move.


There are obstacles in our path that are not meant to go away. And there are doors that are closed that are not meant to be opened, because the God who knows our need, who loves us with a love so deep that it will even inflict pain where it’s necessary, put those obstacles there, shut those doors, for a very good reason.


Paul had this thorn in the flesh, and he prayed about it:


“Three times he sought the Lord that it would leave him” ... but that thorn did not go.


“My grace is sufficient for you [Paul}: My strength is made perfect in weakness.”


After Paul gets that answer, he no longer bothers God about that thing that keeps him weak, that inflicts pain and trouble on his life. Instead, he glories in this very thing that makes him weak because he sees that this painful thing is the fountainhead of the life of Christ in him.


“Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weakness, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”


And our Lord Himself, as he approached the goal of his life on this earth, seeing the cross looming up in front of him, in all of its agony and God-forsakenness, prays:


“Father, if there’s some way for this cup to be taken from me, nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done.”


The cup does not pass. He has to drink it.


When Jesus gets up from those three agonizing prayers, he knows what he has to do, and he does it with joy!


He walks into the agony without wincing.


There is not a book of the New Testament, or the Old Testament that doesn’t tell us about these tribulations – these flames that inflict pain and sear us, which if we want to turn away from God, might be avoided, but if we really want to follow Jesus, can’t even be prayed away. They are necessary.


They are the very thing that enables the love of God, shed abroad in our hearts, to flow out of us and do us some good to those around us.


These days, not too much is said about tribulation.


Tribulation, in the minds of many believers, is something “the world” will have to endure.


“I really feel sorry for them; they’re going to have to go through the Great Tribulation.   No problem for us; we’re going to be raptured!”


And some folks who believe they might actually taste the Great Tribulation or are busy making their plans.


“What are we going to do when they start putting us in prison?”


“How are we going to go underground?”


“Do you have water stored in your basement?” 


“Do you have crackers stored, just in case?”


How few preachers and teachers are telling us as our Lord tells us, and His Spirit tells us on every page of Scripture that it is “through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom of God”?


Tribulation  is not confined to the future— but it’s right now.


We are talking about pain ... a difficulty ... that makes you weak, something that is causing you problems.


And this tribulation is presented to you by God as a thing of joy!  Because, right in the middle of it, you will find the Lord walking at your side.


“In the world,” says Jesus, “you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.”


“Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials for you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance...”


“But if ye suffer for righteousness sake, happy are ye.”


“Be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled, but sanctify the Lord as God in your hearts.”


Were those saints tougher than we are? No! Their flesh was just as weak as ours. They hated pain ... and loneliness ... and danger just as much as we do.


But those believers had learned what we need to learn: Tribulation is necessary, yes, helpful in the life of every follower of Jesus— a powerful ingredient he uses to mold us into his likeness..


Those early believers took the tribulations that came their way, and made them pay off for the glory of God in their lives.


When they came up against hard things


... when they had a thorn in their flesh that kept pressing in and causing pain


... when they were battered from every side by storms


... when they were seared by flames and they didn’t know what was happening,


they knew that God, by these very tribulations, was making them into vessels of light for the world.


God was working death in them that life might flow out of them to bless others.


God was, by means of these tribulations, tearing holes in their lives through which the love that He had given them through the Holy Spirit might flow out and shine forth.


“Not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”


Until we come to the place where we learn to accept tribulation, and by God’s grace, learn to glory in it, we are still immature spiritual babes.


Every little set back we want to quit.


Every time someone hurts our feelings we’re depressed for three weeks.


What happened to our joy?


When we begin to see tribulation—not as bad luck, not a sign that God has turned away from us—but a thing which God, in his wisdom is permitting….


….this very tribulation will become our doorway to stamina and strength and power that reside in holy patience.


 ... an patience  produces experience...”


            Patience is more than “sitting it out.”


Patience is pressing on through storms, with quiet trust.


Patience is staying grounded in God as we gain experience.


“...and experience produces hope...”


How can a soul that’s forever emotionally flapping in the wind like a leaf produce hope?


His words are beautiful.  Her insight into scripture is awesome.  Yet, their daily life is as unstable as jelly.


On the other hand, when you see a person who is built on the Rock, who survives storm after storm, who doesn’t fly into a panic in every crisis,


when this person says, “Jesus never fails”– you have hope.


You have hope because this person is living in that hope. This man knows that Jesus never fails because he has found Him to never fail in his own life by going through tribulations and even it looked like there was nothing left, Jesus was right there.


This woman knows that, thought the heavens and the earth are indeed falling apart, the word of God abides forever. She knows because she lives it – she lives it time,, and time again.


“... and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us.”


Jesus loved His disciples from the very beginning. But the love that flowed from Jesus after His tribulation – His cross – was far beyond anything His disciples had ever experienced from Him before.

After the cross, Jesus comes into their midst and says:


“Peace be unto you,”


“Receive ye the Holy Spirit,” and up shoots this flame in their hearts.


“Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me?”

... and all of  them tremble with the sense of that love.


Just to be near Him warms their hearts.


And so it is with us: we talk much about love, but who of us can love with the love of Jesus?


            Who of us can love our enemies?


            Who of us can return good for evil?


only those who have followed Jesus through the fire again, and again.


The love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit only begins to bear fruit as we follow Him through tribulation as men and women of God.


If we are serious about coming into unity with each other,...


serious about opening up our lives to each other...


serious about ministering God’s life to the lost ....


we have to be willing to yield our lives to whatever tribulation God sends out way.


Tribulation is not something in the future for us: It’s here right now.


The question is:


Are we willing to let that tribulation do its work?

            Are we willing to let it transform us into daughters and        sons of God?


            “Rejoice in the hope of the glory of God”indeed!


            But rejoice also in tribulation.


 “Not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” 





Sometimes, Lord, I’m baffled out of my wits by the troubles that surround me.  I can’t make sense out of any of it.  So I give up trying, and throw myself on your mercy, praising you for the Victory of your Cross, and for the glory that lies ahead.  May your death, working in me, bring life to others.