Part 19 – To suffer (series continued)
So Paul gives us reason why we can “rejoice in our sufferings,” Romans 5:3. It’s because suffering was designed by God to make three things real in our lives, and since they’re purely the work of “the Spirit of glory resting on us” (1 Peter 4:14), then if they are becoming real in our lives “we know that Jesus is living in us. We know it by the Spirit that he gave us” (1 John 3:24), and by what the Spirit is producing in us.
The three things the Spirit produces in our sufferings are hypomeneo, dokime, and elpis, with the first leading to the second and the second leading to the third. Hypomeneo is the ability the Spirit gives us to “abide under” anything the world throws at us, rather than try to avoid it or get out from under it, or hope it goes away and leaves us alone. Instead, the Spirit helps us when we come under fire to not shy away from it. He gives us the power to dive in and go for it, come what may.
Because that’s what leads to dokime, proven by testing. Survive a steady barrage of trials and tests with the Spirit’s help, and there’s our proof that we are the real deal. We’re not fake Christians into Christianity for what we can get out of it (like a free ticket to heaven). God set things up in this life of ours “to see if we’ll stand the test and be obedient in everything,” as Paul phrased it in 2 Corinthians 2:9. God proves us by testing, which is wonderful, because if we can stand up to tests again and again with trust and obedience, thanks to the Spirit’s willing help, it leads to elpis, confident expectation.
But confident expectation of what, exactly? Peter answers that in 1 Peter 1:7-9, “This proving of your faith is set up by God to bring you praise and honour and glory in the day when Jesus Christ reveals himself.” But it’s also confident expectation of joy in the present too, because in “trusting him without being able to see him, he brings you a joy that words cannot express and which has a hint of the glories of Heaven,” so that “all the time (now) you are receiving the result of your faith in him – the salvation of your souls (the ongoing restoration of what God created us humans to be).”
So God built three things into suffering, that understood and experienced would give us joy…(more on this tomorrow)