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The Golden Chain
Romans 5:3-5 Hard times should be a cause for rejoicing, as counterintuitive as that sounds
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
Romans 5:3-5 NLT
By this part of Romans, Paul has reassured us that we are justified by faith in Jesus Christ — something that is worth being joyful about. It’s at this point that he makes the counterintuitive comment that we should also rejoice when “we run into problems and trials”. What? We should be happy when things aren’t going well?
Paul spins out what some have called the “golden chain”, a step-by-step explanation of this quandary. The tribulations we face in life help us develop endurance, which in turn develops strength of character, and then on to strengthening our hope of salvation.
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David Guzik, in his Enduring Word Commentary for Romans 5, says this about facing trials:
A runner must be stressed to gain endurance. Sailors must go to sea. Soldiers go to battle. For the Christian, tribulation is just part of our Christian life. We should not desire or hope for a tribulation-free Christian life, especially because:
God uses tribulation wonderfully in our life.
God knows how much tribulation we can take, and He carefully measures the tribulation we face.
Those who are not Christians face tribulation also.
Martin Luther commented about Romans 5 and how we react to the trials and tribulations of life:
“Whatever virtues tribulation finds us in, it develops more fully. If anyone is carnal, weak, blind, wicked, irascible, haughty, and so forth, tribulation will make him more carnal, weak, blind, wicked and irritable. On the other hand, if one is spiritual, strong, wise, pious, gentle and humble, he will become more spiritual, powerful, wise, pious, gentle and humble.”1
The last part of this triplet of verses in Romans 5 should bring joy to every Christian. The hope that our problems and trials build in us will not bring disappointment. God has filled our hearts with His love through the Holy Spirit, and we should at some level know in our hearts that God loves us deeply.
God communicates His love to us through the Holy Spirit, which every Christian has (Romans 8:9). But not every Christian walks in the Spirit (Romans 8:4-5), nor lives a Spirit-filled life (Ephesians 5:18). Those Christians may not feel the torrent of God’s love in their lives, nor do they spread that love to others.
I’ll end today’s devotional with a typically wonderful quote from Charles Spurgeon:
“The love of God is like light to a blind eye until the Holy Ghost opens that eye... may the Holy Spirit now be here in each one of us, to shed abroad the love of God in our hearts.”2
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Lord, I thank You for my salvation, and the hope of a resurrection life that I have in Christ. Give me both a spirit to be taught in Your perfect ways and a willingness to rejoice in You regardless of the trials I will face in my life. I pray that my life may be a testimony to Your goodness and grace, AMEN.
Luther, Martin "Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans" (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1954)
Spurgeon, Charles Haddon "The New Park Street Pulpit" Volumes 1-6 and "The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit" Volumes 7-63 (Pasadena, Texas: Pilgrim Publications, 1990)