“Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” Suffering changes our outer self—it scars; it pains; it reshapes; it breaks. Look at the outer self and you will lose heart. But Paul doesn’t—because he looks elsewhere. The road of suffering changes our inner self too, as we cling to the gospel and the Spirit goes to work. That’s where you must look.
There comes a moment for most marathon runners when they realize they will make it, because they realize their training has done what they planned—turned them into real endurance runners. Well, what rejoicing there is when we realize that our faith is indeed genuine and gospel-fueled, and that the Holy Spirit is producing Christ-like character in us! When the road goes uphill, when our faith feels weak but proves strong enough, when we see the Spirit changing us bit by bit along the way, we realize: We are justified! We do have peace with God. We can and we will enjoy access to his grace! Our hope is real. This is how you rejoice even during—and perhaps especially during—times of suffering."Bible Plan "