Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Romans 12: 12

 

This is not our culture. This is not a description of our world today. We don’t want to find our joy in things and in situations that are still hopefully distant. We desire to have it all now. For many of us joy has become something that is an ingredient in a drink that is called pleasure, and this is a cocktail whose primary content is self-determined gratification. As hard as it is for us to follow Paul’s instruction regarding rejoicing, it is even more challenging to have patience when things are going badly in our lives. Yet, the Apostle dares to direct followers of Christ to wait on the Lord and to see beyond the hardship of the moment to the glory beyond.

 

These two short phrases include ideas that are never easy to embrace, and Paul knew that. Yet, these same concepts, when taken into our hearts and minds through the transformative work of Christ’s Spirit, will work to set us onto a path of being true followers of Christ. The characteristics of hope and patient endurance establish the essential platform for doing what Christ calls us to do, and they also form a critical aspect of what it means to identify as Christian in our world. Hope requires faith, and faith leads us ever more deeply into the nature and the will of God. Patience in the face of tribulations requires a form of internal strength that is granted to us by Christ as we live in faithful obedience to Him.

 

Finally, all of this is made real to us in and through prayer. I think that Paul’s idea of being engaged in constant prayer means that for followers of Christ all of life is an unceasing act of worship. When we commit ourselves to Christ we are relocating our place of dwelling from the secular to the holy and the eternal. So, as we dwell inside of the palace of the King of the Universe, all of the ground that we step upon is truly holy ground, and all that we do in this place is directly connected to worship of our Lord. Thus all of life becomes prayer, and this reality in which Christ is ever-present produces the joyful hope and the patience in the face of hard times that are foundational for being living witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ every day of our lives.

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