The Bible says in Romans 5:3-5: “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance character; and character hope.”
Let’s do a brief Greek Word study on this passage and then take it one step deeper.
Glory = kachaomai – to boast or vaunt in a good or bad way
Tribulations = thliesis – pressure, afflicted, anguish, persecution, trouble
Produce = katergazomai – to work fully, to work out, to fashion, to finish, to accomplish
Perseverance = hopomone – cheerful or hopeful endurance, patience
Character = dokime – trustiness, experience
Hope = elpis – to anticipate with pleasure, confidence, faith, expectation
In other words, we boast or vaunt in times of pressure, persecution and trouble, because those times finish and accomplish cheerful and hopeful endurance and patience and that accomplishes experience and trustiness, and that accomplishes faith and the ability to anticipate with pleasure and confidence.
Let’s take this a bit deeper.
Tribulation. When any of us hear that word, we cringe. The trials of life are most generally what leads us to living in a state of fear. Something horrible happens—a tragic loss, a parent leaves you, constant fighting, bad finances, a terrible divorce, starvation, sickness, disease, abuse… The list goes on and on.
Trials are like fire. Dangerous, scary. They’re full of heat and if you get too close, it will hurt you. But fire also transforms. In Ancient Times, Native Americans used fire to burn the prairies. At first, all that was left was scorched, blackened earth, but the next year, the grass would be more lush, greener, attracting more wildlife. It’s also always been used in forging weapons, specifically swords. Metal is heated and melted, then cooled. Once cooled, it’s beaten, pounded on time and time again. The fire that breaks and melts it is what makes it stronger—what makes you stronger.
How you react to tribulations determines what you will be when you come out of it. Will you be a refined new object, or a melted piece that has to be reused for something else? If you rely on God—praying, seeking Him, reading His Word—even if He doesn’t immediately answer you, when the trial is over, you now know that you can do it. In the future, when more trials come, you’ll look back and say, “I made it through that. God helped me with that, so He will help me with this.” It becomes a natural mantra that repeats in your mind whenever trouble comes.
It becomes perseverance. This mantra continues, developing an entire belief system inside your mind. From there it spreads, until it etches onto your very soul. It’s within you, strengthening and powering you, helping you to endure all that life brings upon you. It becomes the very thing you cling on to help you climb over that next mountain.
Tribulation is like fire; then perseverance is rope. You tie it around yourself and use it to hold you up when you climb. You climb it, limb over limb, trying to reach the top of that next cliff. It becomes your lifeline, the only handhold you have to get you up and over. And once you reach the top and you’re looking out over that glorious horizon, you realize you did it. You’re standing there, realizing for the first time who you are….
Character. You see the beauty of the world around you, understanding for the first time who you are in Christ. You see the sunrise or the sunset or the clouds around you and you breathe in God’s presence. Tribulation is fire; perseverance is rope; character is the blue sky. It is all around you—giving you meaning and beauty. You finally see the light, the hope that pulses in one tiny spot of the sky. This hope fills you; it warms you like the sun. It gives you glimpses of heaven, of our eternal home above.
From pressure and trouble to finishing and accomplishing cheerful and hopeful endurance, to gaining experience until we learn to trust God and anticipate with pleasure that He will get us through.
Tribulation, perseverance, character, hope.