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
After glorying in our righteousness in Christ, our personalized access to God, and our promise of eternity with Him, we get hit with tribulations, and not just tribulations, but glory in tribulations. Has Paul lost his mind? He certainly knew about tribulation, he had much of it.
I speak as a fool— I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11: 23– 28)
So what’s so good about tribulation? David Jeremiah compares it to a cocoon in which the inhabitant is cut off from the world. He appears to be dead, yet marvelous transformation from caterpillar to butterfly is taking place. A week after my pain-free knee replacement I found myself back in the hospital with mysterious symptoms. Just about every known test was run. At one point my blood pressure got so dangerously low, that the doctors wanted to intubate. My knowing wife refused. Gradually I came out of it. The cause was never found. While others were concerned for my life, I was enjoying time with God. I am told this lasted a week. To me it was just a few hours in which God showed me how close He is to us and how he is involved in the most minute parts of our lives. He stands ready to direct every tiny move. In the months ahead I would need all of what he showed me in that time in a cocoon.
We don’t go looking for trouble, but we certainly do make use of it. Bad times are our fuel for transformation. They make us stronger, nobler, wiser, and more worthy of serving God in ever-increasing capacity. Jeremiah, David (2006-03-07). Captured by Grace: No One Is Beyond the Reach of a Loving God (p. 90). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
The weakest and most fearful of us have really gone through nothing. They have had no experience to strengthen them. They are fearful about what might happen, having no idea that God will get them through it. To have gone through stuff is a blessing. We learn we can make it with God’s help and that God will be there. The “greatest generation” that won World War II grew up in the Great Depression. My generation that gave us drugs, sex and rock and roll, and let government take prayer out of schools and made the womb the most dangerous place in America, grew up in the times of prosperity that followed the war. Tribulation is a treasure.