Lesson 20—Romans 5:3-5

The Way of the Justified—The Wilderness Journey

We have been looking at the blessings of the justified. We have been together in the “Palace Beautiful,” we have joined in the song of the redeemed rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God. Now we turn to the pathway that leads to the glories yonder.

Although rough and rugged it is a bright shining pathway. “The path of the just is as a shining light that shineth MORE and MORE unto the perfect day.” We are brought suddenly from the heights of blessing in vs. 1 and 2 to the depths of tribulation in vs. 3. But we can glory in tribulations as well as in the prospect of glory; the trials of the road need not take from us the song with which we began our journey.

Israel sang on the banks of the Red Sea. All was glorious there. Later on they reached Marah on their way to the land of their song. There the waters were bitter but the bitter waters were made sweet. We experience the same. There is joy in every trial if we travel with God.

I journey through a desert drear and wild,
Yet is my heart by such sweet thoughts beguiled
Of Him on whom I lean, my strength, my stay,
I can forget the sorrows of the day.

We can glory in tribulation because of its blessed results. “Tribulation worketh patience.” We learn to wait on God, we learn endurance through the trials. Down here in the trouble we learn to raise the song we shall sing up there in the glory, only we can sing here as we cannot up there for there is no sorrow there. Listen to the duet in the Philippian jail. Paul and Silas are singing at midnight. No sweeter song was ever sung in the courts of heaven than that song in the night in the dark dismal dungeon. Heirs of glory they could “rejoice in tribulation.” Their harps were well tuned and the sorrow gave sweetness to the tone. Tribulation in itself is not pleasant. Sorrow is sorrow and God knows it, but He is with us in the sorrow. Mary and Martha never would have known the depths of the Saviour’s love had they not walked in the path of sorrow to the grave of their brother Lazarus. Angels in heaven beheld His glory but the sisters knew His tears and His tender sympathy.

Perhaps we would want fair weather all the time. God knows better. Calm seas all the while make poor sailors. All of our trials come from our blessed Father’s hand and what experiences we have of His dealings with us when we exercise patience in the trial. Naturally we wish to be free from trouble but how many a precious lesson we would lose if we were able to take ourselves out of God’s hand.

In the desert God will teach thee
What the God that thou hast found—
Patient, gracious, powerful, holy,
All His grace shall there abound.

And then these experiences of God’s ways with us strengthen our hope. Each step of our onward way brings us nearer the goal and the difficulties make us long the more to reach it. At the end of the way we see the golden street of the City of God where the narrow trail loses itself and those who tread it now will rest their weary feet. All the trials of the way will seem nothing when we get to the end of the road.

Many a traveler has failed to reach the desired road. Some within sight of home have been lost but we are sure of reaching that blest place. Our “hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” What a blessed assurance this is. The Holy Ghost is leading us home to Jesus, even as Rebekah was led to Isaac by the servant who came to win her. And all the way home we enjoy the love of God and the blessed companionship of the indwelling Spirit who has “poured out in our hearts the love of God.”

Of this wonderful love of God we hope to learn more in lesson twenty-one.


1. What characterizes the path of the believer?

2. What gives the Christian joy in every trial?

3. What does tribulation do for the believer?

4. Whose experience in the Old Testament illustrates the pathway of the believer?

5. What has the believer on the way home?