Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;
Romans 5:1-4 NASB
How many of you don’t have any tribulations in your life?
For those who raised your hands, thank you for your honesty. For the rest of you, you need to work either on your ability to tell the truth or your ability to see life clearly.
We ALL have trials through which we have to walk. Admittedly, some are bigger than others, but in this fallen world, as a result of the disobedience of the human race to the will of our Creator, we all experience the difficulties of this life.
In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul talks about the best resolution of these difficulties of life. He says that our justification by faith, which is a gift of God, produces peace WITH God. It reconciles us to him.
Justification is that part of our initial sanctification that gives us a clean slate with God. When we talk about God being able to forget our sins, this is that act. He wipes our scoreboard of shortcomings and downfalls clean, and gives us a fresh start.
Why do we then have peace with God? Why shouldn’t we. After all, He no longer holds anything in the past against us. We have a fresh start.
Now, that isn’t all that happens when we come to Him in repentance, but that’s the part we want to talk about here.
Because, Paul goes on to cite a very significant benefit of this peace with God; we now get to exult, be happy, even celebrate, when trials and difficulties come our way.
OK, I get why some of you kind of lost the train of thought here. You got distracted by the ridiculous notion that you would ever actually celebrate your most difficult circumstances.
For generations, Christians have tried to justify this language. I’ve heard some of the old saints stand up in testimony services and literally thank God for the problems in their lives. I appreciate the model they were trying to portray, but they kind of missed the point.
No one is actually celebrating difficulties in their lives. And, it’s kind of disingenuous to “give God credit” for our problems. Let’s face it, the cause of most of our problems was either the bad decision we made or the bad decisions made by someone else that affected us adversely. God is going to say “thanks, but no thanks” for giving Him that kind of credit.
So, if it’s not literal celebration, what exactly DOES this mean, and why does the peace of God make it possible.
You’ve probably heard someone pose the questions, “What would you do if you knew for certain that you could not fail?” Most of us hear that problem and immediately think of things like business ventures or investments that could result in riches, or maybe taking a chance on some relationship opportunity where you wouldn’t be turned down (looking at you single guys right now…admit it).
But, think of it this way. With all the ups and downs of life, including the obstacles that really prevent you from being the person you’d like to be, what if you could be certain that all you had to do was walk through those problems, and you wouldn’t fail.
Before I came to Christ, I was fearful of going to hell. I’d heard old preachers expound on burning eternally enough times to give me pretty consistent nightmares. But, even after coming to Christ, I still lived in a kind of fear, because what if I failed? What if after receiving His forgiveness, I still didn’t live a righteous life because of my own stupid decision.
And, believe me, I’ve made a few really stupid decisions in my life.
But, unlike my early years of Christian life, I’ve begun to be learning about the peace of God in my life. Now, every time there’s an obstacle, I determine to just walk on through it.
And, why not. I can’t really fail. This life is a passing thing. I’m living it for the God who wiped my slate clean. How would He not catch me when I fall now, after all these years of never failing to do so.
There’s a great song from DC Talk, entitled What If I Stumble? As I contemplated writing this, I listened to it again. Here’s the chorus:
What if I stumble what if I fall?
What if I lose my step and make fools of us all?
Will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble and what if I fall?
You’re not alone, and when the going gets tough. You are protected by the peace of God.
Always praying for you,
Your Older Brother,