"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
- Romans 12:12 NIV
One of the purposes of the Word of God is to equip us to be the overcomers that Christ died for us to be. In Romans 12:12 (NIV), the apostle Paul describes ways of living above our circumstances, no matter what we may be facing. He says: "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
"Be joyful in hope." This means that, no matter what is going on around us, and no matter where we are at the time, we are constantly looking ahead. The Living Bible translation says: "Be glad for all God is planning for you." As followers of Christ, we are never without hope. We know that even if our circumstances seem negative now, brighter days are up ahead for us. Why? Because God is a good God, and His love for us is everlasting and unfailing. The psalmist wrote: "But, O my soul, don't be discouraged. Don't be upset. Expect God to act! For I know that I shall again have plenty of reason to praise Him for all that He will do. He is my help! He is my God! (Psalm 42:11 TLB) When our hope is in the Lord and His goodness, we will experience the supernatural joy that is our inheritance in Christ.
"Patient in Affliction." Paul is urging us here to be patient in times of trouble. This is absolutely essential, because when we become impatient in a situation, we often act unwisely and apart from the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and we rob ourselves of God's best. There are some blessings that we can never receive until we have gone through a period of patiently waiting on God for them. And we have to remind ourselves often that we simply cannot improve on the plans that God has in store for us. Whenever I am tempted to get ahead of God in a situation, I recall some very wise words that I once heard a godly man say: "God's plan is worth the cost of a delay." Hebrews 6:12 (NKJV) instructs us to, "Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises." Be determined to lay hold of your share of the promises of God by exercising patience in times of tension and trouble.
"Faithful in prayer." It's been said that the greatest sin is prayerlessness. Too often, we miss out on seeing God show up in a situation in a mighty way because we fail to pray about it, or we stop praying about it too soon. Scripture says: "One day Jesus told His disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them that they must keep praying until the answer comes." (Luke 18:1 TLB) We live in an "instant" generation. We demand instant results, and we often get them. But that's not God's way. He tells us, "Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]." (1 Thessalonians 5:17 AMP) Some Christians are worried about praying too hard and long for certain things, because when the answer doesn't come in a "reasonable" amount of time, they fear that they are out of God's will. But more than likely, in most cases, we step out of God's will when we STOP praying for something that the Lord has put on our heart. One way that will help us to determine God's will in a situation is to see how it aligns with God's Word. The Bible says that we can be confident that God will answer our prayers when they are in harmony with His will - but it doesn't say WHEN He will answer them. (1 John 5:14-15) The Message Bible translation of Romans 12:12 says: "Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder." What circumstances and lives could YOU see changed by following Paul's formula for success?
Lord, when a loved one or I are faced with dark or difficult times, remind me to be joyful in hope. Give me the patience I need to wait for Your timing and Your best. And teach me to persevere in prayer "until the answer comes." Thank You for the victories and rewards that will be mine as I follow Your Spirit's lead!
- J. M. Farro
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