I had knee surgery. It was not a lot of fun, but the knee got better and the pain went away. So no suffering. I've never been in prison, never faced the possibility of being put to death for my faith. So I have some difficulty relating to Paul's talk about suffering.
I tend to think that suffering produces anger, which produces self-pity, which produces hopelessness. Paul thinks otherwise. No "poor me" talk. Rather, he speaks of trust. It's easy to trust when things are going well, but Paul wants to teach us to trust, to have faith, even when everything is not coming up roses.
When I get up in the middle of the night, I can't always see my bed as I come creeping back. But it is still there. And when I fall back onto it, it still holds me. It's about trust. Paul is confident that, even when it seems otherwise, God is still present. It's about trust.
Dear God, you claimed me, made me your own in holy baptism, and have promised me a home when my time on this earth is over. Please now in my daily walk, hear my prayer: I believe; help my unbelief. Amen.
Romans 5:1-5 (NRSV)
1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.
3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.