The Cross Permits Us to Experience God’s Faithfulness
and Gives Us Hope for the Future
This Paul teaches when he says that tribulation worketh patience and patience experience (Rom 5:3-4). God having promised that He will be with believers in tribulation (2Co 1:4), they feel the truth of the promise; while supported by His hand, they endure patiently. This they could never do by their own strength. Patience, therefore, gives the saints an experimental proof that God in reality furnishes the aid that He has promised whenever there is need. Hence also their faith is confirmed, for it were very ungrateful not to expect that in [the] future the truth of God will be, as they have already found it, firm and constant. We now see how many advantages are at once produced by the cross. Overturning the overweening opinion we form of our own virtue and detecting the hypocrisy in which we delight, it removes our pernicious carnal confidence, teaching us, when thus humbled, to recline on God alone, so that we neither are oppressed nor despond. Then, victory is followed by hope, inasmuch as the Lord, by performing what He has promised, establishes His truth concerning the future. Were these the only reasons, it is surely plain how necessary it is for us to bear the cross.
It is of no little importance to be rid of your self-love and made fully conscious of your weakness; so impressed with a sense of your weakness as to learn to distrust yourself; to distrust yourself so as to transfer your confidence to God, reclining on Him with such heartfelt confidence as to trust in His aid and continue invincible to the end, standing by His grace so as to perceive that He is true to His promises and so assured of the certainty of His promises as to be strong in hope.
Institutes of the Christian Religion