“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12: 11-12
Jesus never promises us a life without trials. In fact, He says the opposite in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” So it’s just a matter of time before you face your difficulties. And that is why these verses are so important. He knew we would have trials, and have questions, so these are our instructions:
1. Be faithful in prayer…when you’re in the midst of a really difficult time you often have questions for God that go unanswered, you feel abandoned, and sometimes the last thing you want to do is pray. Yet He reminds us to keep at it.
Be faithful in prayer, do it regularly. Sometimes I feel like I run out of things to say or like I can’t quite put words to my thoughts and don’t know where to start…so I just don’t start at all. And the enemy loves that. To combat that loss of where to start, I began praying through some scripture. That usually helps get me going, and God ends up using it in an amazing way to speak right to my heart.
I just needed to wait and not move on to the next thing on my calendar or to-do list.
2. Be patient in affliction…I don’t know about you, but if I’m hurting I want to get out of that pain as soon as possible. Yet He encourages us to be patient in our afflictions. We can trust that He only has good in store for us, and that through these hard times, something good will come.
While we are looking forward to the end, to the goal, God is focusing on the process itself. This is where He can do the most work on our hearts, if we wait in trust and let Him.
3. Be joyful in hope…when do you need to have hope? When you are still waiting for something to happen. And I don’t know about you, but when I’m waiting I am not naturally joyful. Especially if it’s been a long wait. In fact, the longer the wait, the grouchier I get. It’s very difficult to find your joy when you are still in the middle of a difficult time; but that is what God calls us to do.
And I think the wording gives us a little clue as to how long these hard times will seem…hope, patience, faithful….sounds like a long wait to me. No matter what your challenge is, or the length of your hard time, it always seems long doesn’t it? But God asks us to wait.
It’s almost like He is looking at a beautiful sunset that we can’t quite see over the mess right in front of us, and He whispers, “wait…look, look what I’m doing here…it’s beautiful. YOU are beautiful.”