Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12, NIV)
What a great verse for this week! As we are surrounded by uncertainty and drastic changes in our lifestyles due to the invasion of the coronavirus, we can put this instruction into practice immediately. These three qualities are crucial to experiencing far more life in the moments of our day and thriving through this season.
Be joyful in hope. We hope for things that we want to happen in the future. But we can choose HOW we wait: impatiently, filled with worry, pessimisticly, even joyfully. It’s easy to be joyful in hope when we anticipate positive events: starting a new adventure, marrying someone we love, or welcoming a baby, for example. But there are other times when we don’t know exactly what is coming and whether it will be good or bad. I used to beg God when big unknowns loomed, “If you just tell me WHEN I’ll know what’s going to happen, then I will be able to wait patiently and joyfully.” Fortunately, God knew my heart better than I did; I would NOT have been satisfied for long with a partial answer! I was impatient in hope. Maybe you are, too. Or anxious in hope. Or fearful in hope. Far more life can be joyful in hope because it knows The One who orchestrates the future. Our hope lies not in the answer, but in the Answerer. We know He is good, and loving, and perfect. So we can wait joyfully, because whatever is coming is something He has approved that will arrive in His perfect timing. It will ultimately be good and allow us to thrive!
He works out everything to fit his plan and purpose. (Ephesians 1:11, NIRV)
Be patient in affliction. Our lives on earth are filled with challenges and difficulty. Sometimes it feels like we have barely escaped one when the next one hits, like waves in the ocean that just keep crashing into us. At other times our troubles continue for a long time, longer than we think we can endure. I once waited 15 months for a diagnosis to a health problem. It was hard to face the symptoms day after day without any understanding of what was happening inside my body. There was nothing I could do to speed up the process; I felt like I was living in limbo, stuck somewhere between my familiar life and some new unknown life. Clinging to God got me through those challenging days, weeks, and months. He helped me be content in doing all I could and waiting patiently for the doctors to figure it out. Far more life can be patient in affliction because it knows The One who sees the end. We can trust God to give us all we need for as long as we need it, regardless of our circumstances. He has promised this and we can be confident that He will keep His word. We can patiently endure the storms, knowing He is in it with us. And He is never caught off-guard or under-prepared. He has an abundant supply of everything we need and shares it with His children generously so we can thrive.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19, NIV)
Be faithful in prayer. A popular movie scenario involves cutting off communication between the main character and their people at the time of crisis. The hero or heroine has to get out of the tough situation on their own. Praise God that is never a real-life situation for His children; nothing can sever our communication with the God who created all and knows all! Prayer enables us to beg for help as well as voice our biggest fears, deepest concerns, and wildest dreams. We never have to watch our words with God; He knows what we are thinking and feeling before we even have a chance to say it, so we will never shock Him. Far more life recognizes the importance of talking through everything with the One who knows us best. Prayer can reveal our hidden motives and illuminate our situation with God’s purifying light. So many times I have resisted prayer. Or started the conversation with God seeking to justify myself yet walked away having overcome my sin, fear, pride or short-sightedness. Telling God what I am thinking and feeling — both the good and bad — is a vital part of our relationship with Him. I admit, my prayers often start as a one-sided monologue. But once my words are spent, my mind becomes calm, my heart opens, and I am ready to yield my perspective and adopt God’s. Sometimes the Holy Spirit brings to mind a Bible verse I have memorized or read, other times song lyrics remind me of His truth, or I may recall a point from my pastor’s message that provides a practical answer. As I am faithful to talk to God through prayer, He is faithful to draw me back to far more life. Always. Regardless of what is happening around me, I can thrive.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Ephesians 6:18, NIV)
Joyful in hope. Patient in affliction. Faithful in prayer. All bring far more life. They empower us to remain in close fellowship with God, even when we must practice social distancing from others. When far more life fills our hearts and minds, we can thrive in any circumstance!
Are you pulling away from God or drawing closer to Him during this time of change and uncertainty?
What helps you remember and believe that God is your hope?
What helps you patiently trust that God can and will meet all your needs?
What helps you pray faithfully, sharing the good and bad, looking to Him for clarity and course correction?
I am praying that you experience countless moments of far more life this week as you hope, trust, and pray!
Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso
Photo Credit: Jenjoe Marsh