Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;– Romans 12:12
Paul continues to give us practical guidelines to follow as functional members of the Body of Christ. We see in this verse three areas of our spiritual life that support each other. If you rejoice in hope, you’ll be better equipped to be patient in tribulation. If you’re patient in tribulation, you’re probably going to want to have an intense prayer life to support it. If you have a strong prayer life, you’re going to be more apt to rejoice in hope! While we look at this verse, let us examine ourselves to see what may be causing this chain to break apart in our spiritual life.
Rejoicing in Hope
Christians are expected to be joyful. Joy is actually one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). We can be joyful in
- Our Salvation (Romans 5:11)
- The Presence of God (Romans 14:17)
- Fellowship With Other Born-Again Believers (Romans 15:32)
- Tribulation (2 Corinthians 7:4)
- Spiritual Maturity of Others (Philippians 1:4; 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3 John 4)
- Brotherly Love (Philemon 7)
- Hope (Hebrews 12:2-3; 1 Peter 1:8)
There are so many things to be joyful about! Here in this verse we are told to rejoice in HOPE. “Hope” is another one of those words that has lost its original meaning in today’s usage. “Hope” means a “confident expectation.” If you hope in something, then you confidently expect it to come to pass. We use the word so flippantly today. I believe the reason why we’ve lost the meaning of the word is because our society doesn’t hope in the right things. The world puts its confidence in things which are bound to fail at some point. We, on the other hand, have something we can truly hope in. If you are saved, you have an eternal inheritance and an eternal future NO ONE can take away from you! We can CONFIDENTLY EXPECT to live eternally with our Lord. No matter what trials of testing come our way – no matter what tribulation we must endure, there is a finish line, after which stands our Lord ready to embrace us and lead us into that great city. Press onward! We have that HOPE – REJOICE in it!
Patient in Tribulation
The second of this three-fold, blessed command is to be patient in tribulation. If we were to really be faithful to the first command to rejoice in hope, to be patient in tribulation would naturally follow. God is glorified in our active, dedicated, diligent service, but He is also glorified when we sit still, patiently going through tribulation. We know this word “patience” very well as I believe most of us realize we are deficient in it. To be patient in tribulation is to quietly reside or steadily persevere through tribulation. “Tribulation” comes from a Latin word which signifies a threshing board – a board with jagged, sharp stones stuck throughout for the purpose of separating the chaff from the grain. So we’re to quietly reside and steadily persevere through this threshing tribulation! We must continually keep in mind that throughout this chapter Paul focuses on the SPIRITUAL side of things. We MUST rely on the help of the Holy Spirit in obeying EACH of these commands. I know at least in my own life, the trials and tribulations that I STRUGGLED through the MOST were gone through without relying on the Lord as much I should have. Paul said “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). He wasn’t talking about superpowers like the ability to fly or amazing accomplishments like landing on the moon. He was talking about bearing afflictions. He was teaching the Philippians that though he was imprisoned and persecuted, through his bonds Christ is preached. Therefore, he’s going to REJOICE (1:18)! Christ was going to be magnified in his body, whether it be by life or death (1:20)! Paul could withstand all things – he could accomplish all that he needed to do – through the Lord’s help. The “REST” mentioned in Hebrews 4:9 isn’t a FUTURE rest (THAT’S already taken care of!). THIS rest is one to be GAINED in THIS life here on earth. “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath CEASED FROM HIS OWN WORKS, as God did from his. LET US LABOUR therefore to enter into that rest . . .” (Hebrews 4:9, 11). We NEED to rely on the Holy Spirit if we are to be patient in tribulation.
Continuing Instant in Prayer
The word “instant” originally meant “being at hand.” The meaning shifted to “quick” in our society as the purpose for things being at hand is for quickness. We now have instant coffee, instant oatmeal, instant pop-up tents, and other instant stuff to save time. When we keep in mind the original meaning of the English word, this verse tells us we need to continually be at hand in prayer. We should have such an active prayer life that we are ALWAYS ready when the Lord calls us. We need to be far closer than just within arm’s reach of the Lord. Like the Beloved John, we ought to continually lean on His breast. Do you remember what happened in the upper room the night Jesus was taken to be crucified? Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me” (John 13:21). The disciples were all then confused about who this traitor is (v. 22). John was at the time leaning on Jesus’ bosom (v. 23). Peter then beckoned to John that he should ask Jesus who was the traitor. John then asked the Lord, “Lord, who is it” (v. 25). Why did Peter have to do this? Peter wasn’t at hand. John was at hand. John was AS CLOSE TO THE LORD as he could get! John was continuing instant to Jesus.
Are you at hand in prayer? When something doesn’t go your way, are you close enough to Jesus where you’re at hand to pray? In other words, are you instant in prayer?
These are some tough commands to follow. Our flesh doesn’t want to rejoice, be patient, and pray! We need the Lord in our lives now more than ever. Don’t go through a trial without trusting in the Lord. We have a HOPE that the world can’t even comprehend! While we’re pressing on to that hope, we need to take hold of the patience available to us, continuing instant in prayer.