And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. —Romans 5:3–4
Years ago I had a friend who was very sick and asked me to pray for him. I did. He got worse. He said, “I don’t ever want you to pray for me again.”
In our estimation, sometimes things go the wrong way. We may pray, “Lord, heal this person. Be glorified through this.”
But the Lord might say, “I will be glorified, but I’m not going to do it the way you want Me to. I’m going to do this other thing instead.”
Sometimes God will remove the affliction. Sometimes God will heal the illness. Sometimes God will take away the cancer. But sometimes the person will get worse.
We don’t usually like that. But it is in these times that God can be glorified. Everyone suffers in life. Christians suffer too. When a Christian is suffering and can still glorify God, that is a powerful testimony to a lost world. When non-Christians see us honoring the Lord through our suffering, it shows them how real our faith is. And guess what? It shows us how real our faith is too.
Do you think your faith would get stronger if everything were easy in life? No, your faith will get stronger through hardship. Here’s something that might surprise you: You even will develop more hope through tribulation. Romans 5:3–4 says, “But we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Hope grows in the garden of pain. It doesn’t grow without challenges or difficulty. It grows in hard times. It’s sort of like building muscle. You build it up by breaking it down. Then, as you keep working out, that muscle will get stronger. You develop strength through your weaknesses. This is true of Christians in their spiritual lives as well.