“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
Romans 12:12 (NIV)
Yesterday we considered the importance of rejoicing in the future we have ahead of us as Christians. That is the first of the three things Paul urges us to do in this verse. Next—and what I wish to speak about today—is the second item, the matter of being patient in affliction.
This is an easy thing to say but, at times, very difficult to accomplish. Elsewhere Paul tells us how we gain patience in this world when he says, Romans 5:3 (NIV) “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;”
But, wait a minute Paul. Did you write, “…glory in our sufferings…”? “Yes”, Paul says, “I did write…glory in our sufferings…”.
You cannot suggest that Paul was mentally imbalanced the way people are who like to experience pain. Masochists are people who find pleasure in personal pain or abuse.
We all recognize that it is a sad way of looking at life to think that pain is pleasurable. God did not create the world in order to have humanity delight in suffering. This is one of the struggles we have in saying God is good, but suffering is clearly a part of His fallen creation.
In other devotionals we have looked at the problem of how suffering entered a perfect creation. We have also considered the way that God has put a plan in place to restore His creation to perfection, and how we may participate in that beautiful world to come.
To be patient in tribulation is possible as we consider the hope just mentioned in the preceding statement. Paul tells us to be patient in our tribulation and he also tells us that tribulation does produce patience in us.
When everything we desire in life just comes to us we do not know if we are patient or not. Only in the context of adversity can we determine if we are patient or impatient. One thing we all acknowledge is that we need to develop patience as we travel through life.
In the grace of God, this virtue of patience is certainly possible to all of us as we lean on the strength of our Lord and Guide in life. He supplies all our needs and does so richly, as we constantly turn to Him in our affliction.
Whatever the issue you face today, turn to the inexhaustible resources of your Lord and find all you need for the day. You are promised the gift of strength for today.
We are never promised all the strength we need for every possible problem that may appear. We are just promised strength for the one that is on our horizon today. Turn again to the Lord and trust Him for the grace He promised and you will not be disappointed. You will never be put to shame, that is His promise.
Psalm 25:3 (NIV)
No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.