English blog

glorying in afflictions

23-11-2013 - Posted by Andre Piet

images_22 In Romans 5:2, Paul exults that “we may be glorying in expectation of the glory of God” and then he writes (3):

Yet not only so, but we may be glorying also in afflictions,

The afflictions, in this context, are connected (especially) with the pressure resulting from the expectation we cherish (see also: 8:35). Throughout Paul’s letters, it is made very obvious that faith in “the expectation of the evangel” brings along afflictions. In practice, this is especially true from the religious side. But Paul glories in these afflictions. That is not to say that we only glory in the midst of these afflictions, but also because of these afflictions. For we have perceived (:3-5):

that affliction is producing endurance, yet endurance testedness, yet testedness expectation. now expectation is not mortifying [disgracing], seeing that the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the holy Spirit which is being given to us.

Affliction furnishes perseverance. The Greek word for perseverance (hupomone) is shown elsewhere as tolerate, endure. Affliction, in itself, may be negative, but it produces exactly what we need. Affliction ensures that we learn to tolerate and endure. To have the wind in your back is easy and enjoyable, but only a headwind makes one strong. Not tribulation is worrying, but its absence. One who openly speaks of the expectation of the Evangel will encounter resistance, but precisely such experiences make one strong, because it necessitates to keep standing. Behold the “testedness” it achieves. As gold is tested by fire (1Pet.1:7) so that the impure elements can be removed, so enduring affliction produces testedness. And thus the circle is again complete, because the testing, in turn, stirs up expectation, where with it began. It is an upward spiraling-movement: repeatedly the same round, but onto an ever higher level. The Evangel, for which Paul suffered affliction, still evokes the same resistance. Whoever speaks about that Evangel (and yes, for out of the superabundance of the heart, the mouth is speaking) does not escape this pressure. It brings on having to stand alone, because there is no place for us within the ‘safety’ of human strongholds. It may be that on account of it we will be scorned and denounced, or even worse. Making known the truth never makes one popular and celebrated. After all, we live in an evil eon in which deception reigns supreme. But the expectation of the Evangel does not disgrace and disappoint us, because the love of GOD (which includes all mankind; Rom.5:18), is poured out into our hearts! Therefore, we rejoice in affliction, for it is a gracious blessing (Phil.1:29)!