“Let us rejoice in our sufferings because we know that our suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope, and hope does not disappoint us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
If you study the original language in which these verses were written, you will discover that Paul is saying essentially this: “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces the quality of character that will not run when things get difficult.”
The Greek word Paul used for character conveys a meaning similar to various patches military people wear that show they have been tested and proven. Paul told us suffering produces endurance, and receiving from the Lord the grace to endure our suffering produces proven character. When you have been tested and proved, the caliber of character that testing produces is often grown in the soil of suffering.
Paul also writes that proven character leads to confidence and hope. When you have developed character that perseveres, you will not be put to flight. While visiting missionaries on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, I learned that one of the most important abilities for missionaries is stickability. Can you go to a foreign culture, and stay for fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years? Can you live out your life there as a fragrance of Christ, an irrefutable statement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people who are hostile toward Jesus and His followers?
Most missionary work is living Christ until the people you desire to reach “see Christ in your mortal flesh,” to borrow the words of one of the greatest missionaries in the history of the Church. (2Corinthians 4:11)
Perseverance is stickability: the ability to hang in there, and keep hanging in there. That is how an orange gets to be an orange; it just keeps hanging in there until it becomes an orange.
Dick Woodward, from 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer