Did we do something wrong?
Did we not listen?
Could our current situation have been avoided if we had done x, y and z?
Yes sometimes this is true. We could have avoided it, we could have listened but sometimes life just happens. Sickness, loss, disappointment, even despair are a part of everyday life and it sucks.
Regardless of our theology of pain and suffering, Romans 12:12 speaks into foundational Christian living for all seasons. Paul encourages us in our basic Christian conduct to always be:
‘rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;’ (Romans 12:12 NKJV)
‘To rejoice in hope…’
This speaks to my worshipping heart. To continue to put on a garment of praise despite circumstance, to lift a song not for what my eyes currently see or what my heart feels at the time but in faith for who I know God is, for all that I know He is able to do.
Too many times I have allowed circumstances to get the better of me and find myself drawing back in my praise to God only to find that the situation soon changes and I am left embarrassed that I didn’t trust though it; that I lost my song amidst the trial. I allowed hope to fade before the sun arose again.
When we feel that have nothing to praise for, we can praise in hope that things will change, that we will change. I have been wondering this lately:
What is more of a miracle?
That our circumstance changes or,
that we are changed and can handle the circumstance differently?
When we chose to rejoice in hope we place ourselves as clay in the hands of the potter. The enemy would love to steal our song and see us draw back but, rejoicing in hope is a weapon of endurance. Oh that we would keep singing His praise in every season.
‘To be patient in tribulation…’
This assumes that tribulation will come. The word tribulation can be described as pressure, affliction, anguish, persecution, burdens, trouble… sounds like rubber hits the road life to me, and when the rubber hits the road our natural response can be to run. We we hurt it’s uncomfortable so we think something must be wrong, we need to change something, do something, fix something. Our instruction is to be patient.
Check the Lex
Patient: Greek 5278 ὑπομένω Pronunciation: hoop-om-en’-o from 5259 and 3306; to stay under (behind), i.e. remain; figuratively, to undergo, i.e. bear (trials), have fortitude, persevere:–abide, endure, (take) patient(-ly), suffer, tarry behind.
One of the words that Greek word for patient is derived from is men’-o (3306) which means to stay in a given place, to abide, to endure, to remain present, to stand.
I wonder how many times we flee before we have receive our miracle? (The miracle being that either the circumstance changes or we do.) Do we stand until we can stand it no more and then flee missing the miracle that was on its way?
Our instruction is to remain patient in tough times, abiding in Him. I think of the Psalm 91 type of abiding.
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)
It’s one of my favourite Psalms-so poetic and powerful. Do yourself a favour and read the whole psalm here.
‘To be steadfast in prayer…’
God has been stirring in me a new way to pray. John 15:7 has been changing me at my core over the last couple of months.
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. (John 15:7)
It’s a promise available for us: if we a) abide in Him, then we b) ask whatever we desire (pray) and c) it will be done. Simple. Amazing.
I have been inspired to pray bolder prayers. To pray for what I really desire without fearing if it is ‘right’ or if it’s ‘what God wants me to pray’ if it’s ‘selfish’ or worrying about ‘what I should really be praying for.’
If I am abiding in Him then either He will change the desire of my heart or He will answer my prayer. Win win.
When the circumstance before me seems too big I am beginning to change my thinking from, ‘this will require a lot of hard work’ to: ‘this will require big prayers.’
It is easier to put hope on the shelf and stop praying and believing sometimes. If we shelf it then we can just begin to deal with the disappointment and move on. I don’t believe that this is God’s best for us though. Some things just require more time, who knows why.
It requires a lot more honesty and rawness from our part to continue to bring the desires of our heart before God. To feel them, to allow the emotion to effect us, to keep praying even when it hurts and the answer feels like it will never come.
I spoke to a friend today who said of her 3 year old: “just because she asks me question it doesn’t mean that she is ready for the answer.” Straight away I thought of us; you and me. Just because we ask God the question (or pray the prayer) it doesn’t mean that we are ready for the answer. Maybe we are ready to receive what we are asking for.
I am sure many things will make more sense when we get to heaven. In the meantime though, we need to be patient in tribulation, trust, abide, rejoice with songs of hope and pray steadfastly.
Some thoughts to ponder…
Is there and area where you’ve put hope on the shelf lost your song? Go on take it of the shelf and allow God to renew your hope
Does what you’re waiting for perhaps just need some more patience? It’s so much easier to be patient when we have hope
What real, raw, bold prayer are you holding back? Why don’t you be bold and offer them up right now?
Standing and believing for you in all things prayed and beloved for.
This blog is part of a 21 day worship devotional titled ‘A Meander through Romans 12.’ You can subscribe here.