Have you ever tried solving a puzzle that was being particularly difficult? Sometimes life presents challenges like that, too. We need to press on and find a way through, and then we win!
A wise man once said there is a time for every purpose under heaven. He was right.
Today’s verse encourages us to BE JOYFUL IN HOPE, PATIENT IN AFFLICTION, AND FAITHFUL IN PRAYER.
There is a time to be joyful. We all love it when our lives are filled with joy. It is easy to be filled with joy in times of happiness. But when life’s difficulties seem overwhelming, is it possible to maintain our joy? Yes, because happiness and joy are two different things. Happiness is a feeling that depends upon circumstances, whereas joy is a gift from God that provides inner strength based upon the hope of His promises. Since His promises never change, our joy can strengthen us as we endure life’s challenges and pain. Happiness is a reaction to something good. Joy is the gift of Someone great.
Remembering God’s previous faithfulness focuses our hearts and minds on Him and the joy He gives. I often find that memories bring great joy. This is true even (and perhaps especially) in times of significant pain. Memories deliver seeds of hope from which may grow reminders of joy-filled events. We can be joyful in hope because our God is the God of all hope. As you focus on Him He fills you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. His hope produces both joy and peace in us. So we need not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving we let our requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Affliction must be managed with patience. And it is best seasoned with the hope, peace and joy with which we began; for life springs from hope. The bible tells us to count it all joy when we face various trials, because we know that when our faith is tested, our endurance has a chance to grow. The enemy uses temptations to try and bring out the worst in us, but our loving Lord allows tests to bring out the best in us. Our present difficulties are not worth comparing to the promise Christ holds for us. When we know Him and serve Him, better days are always coming. His promise gives us strength to face affliction with patience, and even with joyful hope.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. God doesn’t abandon us, ever! All we need to do is ask Him for help, and then follow Him. When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. You may not think of yourself as very “righteous,” but when you surrender to Jesus and agree to follow Him He gives you HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS in exchange for your sin. Now THAT’S righteous! Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He will lead the way, we just need to follow and obey.
As we do, it will be our faith-filled prayers that tie us most surely to the only one who can uphold us by His powerful right hand. Faith knows what the future holds before we can see it with our natural eyes. We can be assured of the delivery of Christ’s promises because HE IS FAITHFUL. Since Christ is faithful, our prayers to Him can be faith-filled; and THAT enables us to be patient in affliction. It also teaches us that we can do anything through Christ as He strengthens us.
For those who love God, He works all things work together for good. He is able to do that with things that do not appear to have any redeeming value on their own. If you’re going to make brownies from scratch there are several ingredients you might be tempted to exclude if you tasted them. Cocoa is bitter and harsh when tasted alone, but don’t try to leave it out of the brownies! A couple of raw eggs won’t be too appealing either! But they are necessary, too! If you can take things that are bitter and unappealing on their own and mix them together to make a baked treat that is delightfully sweet and appealing, just imagine what God can do! I know, it’s a silly little illustration; but it makes a serious point. God can work ANYTHING for our good, and He promises to do just that for those who love Him and are called according to his purpose.
And so we remain joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. For Christ is our hope, He is our strength, and His Spirit is the river of life within us that springs forth in faith.
So lets hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.