One of the greatest things about scripture is it’s ability to stop you dead in your tracks. When you begin to dig into God’s word with an open heart, He speaks to you. It may not be what you were expecting, but it always has the ability to change your life if you allow it.
And that’s exactly what happens when you come across a verse like Romans 12:12!
“Rejoice in hope. be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (ESV)
I had read this verse in the past, but this time it messed me up! Trying to read on at that point was a losing battle because my mind kept circling back. I distinctly remember feeling both convicted and encouraged at the same time, which I thought was weird. Convicted because I knew I wasn’t living this verse out to the best of my ability, but encouraged because I knew with God’s help I could learn to.
For a while I wrestled with what it meant to rejoice in hope and be patient in tribulation. These two ideas seemed to what tripped me up the most. They sounded great in theory, but I couldn’t figure out how I could consistently live them out in my life.
Of course there will be times when it’s easy to get excited about things that aren’t guaranteed to us; like getting married, attending a good college, or landing your dream job. Likewise, there will be times where standing your ground and not running in the face of trouble will come easily; like when your kids are being animals, your car breaks down, or when the teller at the bank is being a jerk.
But what about the scenarios where there doesn’t seem to be any hope? Like when you get laid off with no job prospects, one of your best friends commits suicide, or a loved one gets cancer. What about when trouble is looking you in the face and doesn’t budge? Like having your faith ridiculed at school, a boss who speaks down to you at work, or watching a friend reenter an abusive relationship. In scenarios like these, how is it possible that we can we rejoice in hope and be patient during tribulation?
I prayed about this for a while. And one day after praying, I began reading the verse over and over again. After about the tenth time I randomly read it backwards, and that’s when God revealed to me the answer!
It’s only when you are constantly in prayer that you are able to constantly be patient during tribulation and rejoice in hope.
The part of this verse I spent the least amount of time on, ended up being the key that unlocked it all. I focused more on what I found troubling, and I believe that is what we often do. We look at our problems and either give up hope or run away in fear.
To be constant in prayer, is to be in constant communication with God. God is not Genie from Aladdin where you get to rub his lamp and get three wishes. God desires to have a relationship with each and every one of us, and ultimately that’s what were were created for! So take full advantage of that, talk to him about anything and everything, the good, bad, and ugly. The only way to live where you can consistently rejoice in hope and be patient in tribulation is when you are constant in prayer!