Affliction – A Stand in Grace

I am in the middle of heavy troubles…now what do I do?

Romans 5:1-5 CSB
[1] Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. [2] We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. [3] And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, [4] endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. [5] This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 5 starts with a statement regarding the landscape of the Christian life. Before anything else, before tribulations, and troubles there is grace. For those who have been justified by faith, through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, verse 1 says, “…we have peace with God.” Then Paul continues to explain the grace that gives us a place to stand in hope of the glory of God. So, as a believer in Jesus we have peace and a hope, standing in His grace. This is an excellent place to start when tribulation is just around the corner…

Afflictions are, as John Piper notes, “any tests to your faith.” We are presented with various afflictions daily, some small, and on rarer occasions the troubles are quite large. Any of these problems have the potential of disrupting our faith in God. These “tests” are giving us clues as to where our faith is based.

When Jana died, and even the week and a half before when she was diagnosed with Leukemia, my faith was immediately challenged. Questions arose regarding God’s existence, His care, and even His interest in our situation. I prayed more fervently than I ever have before the night Jana experienced her tremendous suffering. God, take her pain away! Please!

The crisis of belief begins.

When affliction does come, the encouragement and truth of verses 1 and 2 are foundational. We stand in grace! Grace not deserved, but freely offered. Grace to actually rejoice in God’s power and what He will do to bring glory to Himself.

In the valley, though, it can be hard to see His face. His truth is what we constantly need. We need to keep trusting, keep exploring our faith, and keep perservering. In the growth pattern described by Paul, endurance, or perserverance, is the next step. From inside the storm, we must not let the storm take our sights off of Jesus.

My feelings have taken me to a thousand different places over the last months. I have been up and down emotionally, never knowing exactly what emotion may show up in a few minutes. I am unreliable. He is the rock of my salvation! His truth, during the affliction, is my anchor. It’s extremely difficult to manage the emotions, which I do need to feel and experience, and remember that I stand in grace. I can rejoice in this. This life, on earth, is not the end. Peace with God and hope in His glory is the last word!

Grace opens the eyes of the heart to truth and inclines the heart to embrace it and live by it.

John Piper

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