"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12 NIV
If you're like me, you may find it hard to be patient when things go badly. Fortunately, for most of us, things go well so much of the time that at the first sign of trouble, we become thrown off balance. Our world becomes shaken. How did this happen? Did we do something wrong? Is God punishing us, or does he not care? Eventually, after accepting we are in trouble, we hope we will get through it quickly. Who can blame us?
The Biblical meaning of affliction can mean bodily and mental pain, but more broadly to anything that causes distress. But the question of why we need to suffer trouble at all is age-old without a definitive answer. Believers and non-believers alike experience troubles. We only need to read the book of Job to see how a Godly man can have things go horribly wrong. Sometimes, our problems are merely brief interruptions and inconveniences; other times, like Job, they are more prolonged and devastating.
In today's verse, Paul also offers two aids to help us through these difficult times; hope and prayer. First, we can take joy that Christ is with us. During his time on earth, Christ experienced suffering that likely none of us will ever face. He truly appreciates our trials and afflictions. Offering his life, he died and was resurrected, so we might have hope more extraordinary than anything we have in this world. In presenting our prayers, this same Jesus who suffered acts as our intercessor with God. While it may not speed up the time of trouble, we find comfort in sharing our burdens. The Holy Spirit provides peace, strength, and guidance in navigating the waters of these tumultuous periods.
Precious and loving God, we thank you for the hope we find in you. When we experience trouble, we have the assurance that you are with us. You listen to our prayers and provide everything we need to see us through. We pray today for all who are experiencing a time of affliction. You know each situation and precisely what they need. In the name of your Son, Jesus, we pray. Amen
Repost from December 8, 2020