May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. In the name of our Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, dear friends in Christ,
“Guess what! Guess what! You’ll never believe it! I can’t believe this is happening to me! This is awesome! Wow! I’ve just got to tell you! This is incredible!” Have you ever experienced so much joy and pride that you’ve spoken words like those? Have you ever been so excited you couldn’t help but announce it to the world? Maybe it was getting engaged …maybe it was becoming a dad or mom (or a Grandma or Grandpa) for the first time…maybe it was watching your child do something great…fill in the blank. It’s great to be joyful and proud isn’t it?
Certain special things in life make us so proud and cause us to rejoice. But all of these things are just that, special cases, right? They happen once and then some time later its business as usual. The excitement wears off. So what keeps us going from day to day? Isn’t there something that we can rejoice in from one day to the next? Something to make us feel good of when we get out of bed in the morning? Something that we can claim as our own and boast about from one day to the next? Something that you’ll never get tired of boasting about? What do you take pride in? Maybe it’s my health, “Well, I’m in decent health I can get around…I can do most of the things I enjoy…my health makes me feel secure.” Maybe it’s my possessions, “Well, I don’t have everything that’s out there…but I’ve got the main things…life’s pretty good.” Or maybe it’s my large network of friends or my loving family or my job or that one thing that everyone says I’m good at. But the problem is, when we find our security, our meaning for life, our pride and joy for living in any of those things we’re actually putting all of those things above God, and not only is that sinful, it also doesn’t work. Why not? Because they are all based on circumstances- if I can create the right circumstances, then I’ll be happy. But not only can circumstances change in an instant, having the right circumstances won’t make life more meaningful, won’t have any positive bearing at all on what really matters…and that’s eternal life.
So thank the Lord that God’s given us Romans 5:1-5. Why? Because here God tells us what we can take pride in, who we can rejoice in, who we can even boast in and about in spite of our circumstances. Who is it? It’s our Triune God. And why do we take pride in our Triune God? Why do we even boast about our Triune God? Because of who our three-in-one God is and what He has done.
He’s God the Father. He’s the almighty Maker of heaven and earth. He holds all things in the palm of His hand and protects His children. In complete independence He does not have to answer to anybody and He does whatever pleases Him. And what exactly pleases Him most? “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God.” In other words, it pleased God the Father to look at this world of sinners who by nature can only rebel against Him and who deserve only punishment from Him and say, “My love knows no bounds, I declare you all innocent, not guilty, justified.” And as God’s children we look at that and say, “Wow!” With a holy and just God whom we should be frightfully scared of, who we should run in terror from, you now have complete peace and the word literally means face to face with Him! Everything is just right, just the way it’s supposed to be: you’re God’s loved child and He’s your loving Father. You can take pride in that; you can boast in that; you can rejoice in that!
But something isn’t adding up. How could a just and holy God ever make such a declaration? “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” You see, the second person of the Trinity is God the Son. Although none of us could even add a speck to His infinite glory, in love He chose to live on this earth perfectly in every way because we couldn’t. And He took upon Himself the full punishment for your sins, my sins, and the sins of the world and paid for them with His death on the cross. By rising from the dead He proved His victory which is also your victory: your sins are forgiven once and for all! And because of this “we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” Because of what Jesus did, you have access to the triune God. He listens attentively to you! You can take pride in that! You can boast in that!
And finally how did all of this become yours? “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who he has given us.” All of the blessings of God become yours through faith. And God didn’t even leave that up to you. No, He sent the Holy Spirit into your heart to work in you that miracle of faith in Him. He sent the Holy Spirit to convince you that all He’s done for you is true. And the Holy Spirit keeps on strengthening your faith and building your faith in Him through His tools: the Word and sacraments. You can certainly take pride in that!
What an awesome Triune God we have, who has done such amazing and glorious things for us! A God who we take pride in and boast in!
And then…we hear those troubling words whispered in our ear: “Oh wow, yea, look at you, you and your Triune God, some help He is for you, why look at you… you can’t do half the things you used to physically be able to do…oh and look at how great life ISN’T going for you…remember how much it hurt when you lost that loved one…some Triune God you have… oh and remember that tragedy your family went through… sure doesn’t look like that Triune God loves you, much less is on your side” Yea, troubling words. Maybe even more troubling when we read in our text: “We also rejoice in our sufferings.” Rejoice??! The Greek is actually even stronger. Literally, it’s the Greek word for how I started this sermon. It’s boasting! It’s being so happy about something that you’ve just got to tell someone, it’s overflowing with excitement, pride, and joy. Now, how in the world can you react that way to suffering?
Because we know that God uses “suffering to produce perseverance;” suffering, literally a pushing down on you – when life is a wine-press and you’re a grape- that produces in you a patient endurance when the events of life push down on you keep pushing back and persevering and “perseverance, character;” perseverance shows that you have been through the trial by fire and passed, your character has been proved genuine, you see, the more trials and suffering that you go through and you bear these trials with a patient endurance it eventually develops within you a fixed pattern of reaction to trials and this fixed pattern of reaction, this character, shows itself as a person who trusts completely in God’s guiding hand in every trial. And then finally, “character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us.” Hope? Hope in what? Hope in the glory of God. No matter what happens to you, no matter what you lose on earth, no matter what the devil whispers in your ear, one thing God never wants you to lose: the glory that awaits you in heaven with Jesus. You see, no matter what happens, your Triune God continues to guide all things in order to bring you to your real home, your eternal home in heaven. If suffering keeps us weaned off this world and keeps driving us back to God and His Word, then thank the Lord, because finally heaven’s what matters most and that’s what your Triune God cares most about! And so we rejoice- yes, we boast! – in our sufferings, because they drive us back into the arms of our triune God!
And that Triune God; our three-in-one God; the Father who’s given you peace, the Son who’s given you access to the Ruler of all, and Holy Spirit who’s constantly pouring God’s love into your heart, that Triune God is YOUR God. And your Triune God is with you and He’s the One who gives you joy in everything. And why? Because He’s done everything and will keep doing everything for you with one purpose in mind: to bring you to be with Him where He is: Yes, no matter what, no matter what happens to you or your family, no matter what great joy you have, or what great suffering you experience, you can always take pride in, always rejoice in, and always boast in your Triune God! Amen.