"We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope." (NCV)
What is God saying?
His followers should have a positive outlook when they experience difficulties, because those problems improve their character, which produces hope (in God), which brings joy (that God is working on their behalf).
What is God saying to us today?
This is one of those verses that seems easier said than done. If someone was truly happy that they lost their house, or their spouse was unfaithful, or a loved one died, others would probably think they were crazy. So is God telling His followers to act as if we've lost touch with reality? Not necessarily, but this verse encourages us to focus on the bigger reality than what our present circumstances might be. It's like having a guaranteed investment - if you know that after 10 years you will have tripled your money, the daily ups and downs of your investment's value won't concern you too much. You'd just have to be patient through all of the fluctuations, clinging to the hope of the promised profit. And while others might be worried, you find joy knowing that the world's greatest Financial Planner is working on your behalf.
What is God inviting us to do?
Have you ever felt joy in the midst of your problems? God invites us to stay focused on the big picture, instead of getting overwhelmed by our present circumstances. He promises that He's not only working to bring a temporary good out of our present troubles, but to bring an eternal joy!