And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience;
The text may be treated —
1. Sore was the tribulation which came upon the disciples as they thought upon Christ's death and burial. But after a little patience and experience, their hope revived; for their Lord arose. After that hope had been begotten in them, the Holy Spirit's Divine influence was shed abroad upon them. They were not ashamed of their hope, but fearlessly proclaimed Jesus, their hope of glory.
2. History repeats itself. The history of our Lord is the foreshadowing of the experience of all His people. First comes our tribulation, our cross-bearing. Out of our patience and experience there arises in due season a blessed hope: we are quickened by our Lord's resurrection life, and come forth from our sorrow. Then we enjoy our Pentecost: "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost." Consequent upon that visitation our hope becomes clear and assured, and we are led to make a full outspoken testimony.
II. EXPERIMENTALLY. Here is a little map of the inner life. This passage can only be fully understood by those who have had it written in capital letters on their own hearts.
1. "Tribulation worketh patience." Naturally it worketh impatience, and impatience misses the fruit of experience, and sours into hopelessness. When the heart is renewed by the Holy Spirit, but not till then, tribulation worketh patience. Angels cannot exhibit patience, since they are not capable of suffering. Job did not learn it in prosperity, but when he sat among the ashes and his heart was heavy. Patience is a pearl which is only found in the deep seas of affliction; and only grace can find it, bring it to the surface, and adorn the neck of faith therewith.
2. This patience worketh in us experience: i.e., the more we endure, the more we test the faithfulness of God, the more we prove His love, and the more we perceive His wisdom. He that hath never endured may believe in the sustaining power of grace, but he has never had experience of it. You must put to sea to know the skill of the Divine Pilot, and be buffeted with tempest before you can know His power over winds and waves. What better wealth can a man have than to be rich in experience?
3. Experience works hops, How wonderfully does Divine alchemy fetch fine gold out of baser metal. The Lord in His grace spreads a couch for His own on the threshing floor of tribulation, and there we take our rest. He sets to music the roar of the water floods of trouble. Out of the foam of the sea of sorrow He causeth to arise the bright spirit of hope that maketh not ashamed.
III. DOCTRINALLY. The text is none other than the house of God and the gate of heaven. "The love of God (the Father) is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength...Christ died for the ungodly." Behold the blessed Three in One! It needs the Trinity to make a Christian, to cheer a Christian, to complete a Christian, to create in a Christian the hope of glory. We have Divine love bestowed by the Father, made manifest in the death of the Son, and shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;