Got troubles? Feeling disappointed? Been grieving? Are you just worn out? Everybody finds themselves in the dark from time to time. Question is, what to do about it? If I let myself wish that life were different for me I feel guilty when I think about people who are in situations far worse than I am experiencing. But, being aware of someone else’s misery does little to change my own feelings. Then, perhaps I try to pull out the old ‘count your blessings’ card, naming “them one by one.” That’s a good thing to do and encourages thankfulness, but in the end I am still dealing with my present reality. Complaining just deepens the darkness and makes those around me irritated, so that is not a great option.
So, what should we do? Paul offers this practical counsel from the wisdom of the Spirit. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12, NIV)
Joyful in hope!
What a wonderful thing. There is nothing in my life today that can rob me of my hope in Christ Jesus. What is that hope? Ultimately, it is focused around eternal life, the home in the Father’s house that is prepared for me, bought and paid for by Jesus, and His gift to me and to all who trust Him in faith. The hope that I find in Him is also about this day, these problems. He assures me that even when I cannot discern His plans, even when I bring suffering on myself, even when the sinful world in which I live creates hardship, there is nothing that He cannot use to shape me into that person He desires me to be and to do His will through me.
The Spirit asks me to trust and even take joy in the fact that I “know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28, NLT) Are you willing to trust Him with whatever is troubling you today?
Patient in affliction!
“Give it time, let Me work. Stay steady.” Yes, that is the counsel of God. If you’re ready to abandon your marriage, quit your job, write off a relationship, or even decide to leave God behind, hear the Word that counsels endurance. The principle of patience is a consistent theme of the Scripture. As humans we want solutions now. We are sometimes willing to prematurely blow up our lives because of our frustrations. God asks us to go steady ahead confident that His timeline is often very different from ours. Remember that patience is not apathy, nor is it passive. Patience is hope brought to the present that helps us make the right choice even when Self is screaming for relief or escape.
Learn the pattern of the 37th Psalm that says, “Trust, delight, commit, and be still” before the Lord!
Prayer should not be confused with eloquent speeches to God, or petitions prepared with lawyerly precision in every word. Tears slipping wordlessly down your cheeks as you look to Jesus are precious prayers in His sight. Sighs that reflect the weight of the burden of the day are a kind of prayer that He can understand. A simple “Help me, Jesus, to stand,” is sometimes the best we can do when we are frustrated and at the end of our rope.
The important thing is that we find ourselves focused on Him, listening to Him, and continuing the daily conversation. If we stop talking to God because of some misguided idea that He will respond to our silence, we are only hurting ourselves. Make prayer an authentic expression – of your pain, about your problems, that share your joy, that adore Him for Who He is. Just keep praying – faithfully.
Remember even Jesus wrestled with the will of His Father to the extent He asked Him for a way around the Cross, but He never stopped talking to Him!
The word from the Word is a text so beloved by me that a portion of it is tattooed onto my right arm! OK, I could have left that part out, right? Never the less, this passage brims with confidence in Christ and inspires us to trust Him. If you’re in a place of darkness, if you’re struggling, pray that the Spirit will make these words more than an idea, that they will come alive in you.
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14-21, NIV)
Hopeful. Patient. Prayerful.
I Know Who Holds Tomorrow
I don’t know about tomorrow
I just live from day to day
I don’t borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to gray
I don’t worry o’er the future
For I know what Jesus said
And today I’ll walk beside Him
For He knows what is ahead
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand
Ira Stanphill © 1950 New Spring (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) CCLI License # 810055