Friday, December 15, 2023

Hope in Trials Through Community - Shannon Smith and Sandi Arenburg

Hope in Trials Through Community
And not only that, but we also boast in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3–5 HCSB

Have you ever sat in church, completely devastated by the trials in your life?

People around us sing. We sense the warm, inviting atmosphere, yet feel utterly alone in our suffering. It often feels as if we experience hardship alone. We imagine those around us have easier lives and can’t empathize with ours. But the closer we draw to those in our church community, the more we find a shared sense of pain and imperfection.

We all face afflictions. Everyone has something they struggle through, whether it’s the disappointment of unmet expectations, a prodigal child, or a devastating diagnosis. And we all fight to reconcile our hope in the gospel and the brokenness we find.

But in a world where uncertainties and trials persist, Paul’s words remind us we don’t have to face our trials alone. Paul says afflictions produce perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope—a hope anchored in God’s faithful love.

Paul also shows that this progression from suffering to hope occurs collectively by using the pronouns “we,” “us,” and “our.” This repetition emphasizes that all Christians travel the same progressive journey together. Our experiences differ, but we all go through hardship and trials. The good news is that we never have to endure them alone. The Body of Christ helps carry our burdens while we wait for different circumstances.

So, how do we lean into this community when affliction tempts us to despair? We allow the testimonies of others to grow our confidence in Paul’s words. We also recognize that suffering produces hope because we see it in others.

When tempted to give into despair, we remember a friend who shared her struggles with infertility, yet worships God. We see endurance. Or, when our prayer requests contain only complaints, we remember the joy of a friend who shared about overcoming addiction. We know what a proven character looks like.

In sharing our burdens and joys, we discover hope through community. The Body of Christ holds us together, providing support and giving each member reason to boast even when our struggles feel overwhelming. The burdens become lighter as we shoulder them together. And as we depend on God, His Spirit, and others for comfort, we learn to extend this same hope.

Together, we become a testimony to the perseverance gained through affliction, which produces in us a proven character and an eternal hope.

How can you share your struggles and triumphs and encourage others to do the same?

Tweetable: How have you found hope through your trials? 


Shannon Smith is a suburban mom seeking faithfulness in whatever corner of the world God places her. She has taught the Bible for seven years, led small group ministries for eighteen, and now works at the church in local missions. You’ll likely find her with her head in a novel, laughing with good friends, or pretending to know things about art. Find her at

Sandi Arenburg is in the last year of the Master of Arts in Christian Education degree at Dallas Theological Seminary. She holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, taught at Virginia Tech, and spent almost a dozen years leading teams in corporate America before staying home to raise her daughter. She has been a Bible study leader for thirteen years in the church and parachurch.

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