Rejoice in Hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12)
In any walk of life, there will be times of great blessing and times of great difficulty. There will be times when you feel full of joy, and there will be times when you feel quite desperate.
In his Word, God calls us to steady tenacity, sticking at it, persevering over the long haul. The hope that Paul speaks about here is what the New Testament calls “the hope,” the great and glorious hope that is ours in Jesus Christ. This hope is located, not in this world, but in the new world, into which Christ will bring us at the time of his second coming.
How to Rejoice in Hope When Life Is Hard
Whatever our circumstances today, God says to us, “Rejoice in hope.” The question of course is, How are we to do that, especially when life is hard?
1. Stop indulging false hopes.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick. (Proverbs 13:12)
If you keep thinking something is going to happen, and it doesn’t, you end up feeling sick. It breaks your heart. So don’t put yourself in that position. Don’t live your life in such a way that you set yourself up to be disappointed.
Think about the last several decades of world history: 14 years into the 20th century, we had the First World War. People said it would be “the war to end all wars,” but it was only a matter of 20 years before the Second World War. After that came The Cold War for 50 years, but then we ended the 20th century with the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. Less than 20 years later, we are immersed in a whole new kind of war: “the war on terror.”
People say, “When are we going to see the kind of world we had hoped for?” The answer is: You aren’t going to see it here! All visions of utopia are doomed to failure in this world. It is in the nature of the human spirit to think we can redeem the world, but a brief look at world history shows us that we never have, and we never will.
2. Recognize short term uncertainty.
Listen to what God says in the letter of James: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring” (4:13-14).
It is good to have plans, but remember, when you plan for the future, you don’t even know if you will be here tomorrow! “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:15). Everything we hope to do depends on God’s grace and strength; therefore the wise person says, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (Romans 4:15).
I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but I do know the final outcome of my life.
3. Rejoice in long term security.
…our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
In heaven, sin will be no more. It will not be in you, and it will not be around you. Never again will you grieve your Savior. You will be a joy to him, and he will be a joy to you forever.
You will serve the Lord as you always wished you could. Never again will you be tired, weary, or discouraged. You will explore the joys of the new earth, freed at last from the curse—no floods or raging fires, and no storms, earthquakes. or mudslides. You will enjoy the blessings of a world where every person truly loves his sister and brother—no violence, no hatred, no fear.
Place all your troubles into the hands of Jesus Christ, and look in hope to him.
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You will enjoy this life in a resurrection body (modeled after the resurrection body of Jesus), in which the dark cloud of depression can never cast its shadow over you, the strong pull of temptation will never rise from within you, and the sharp anguish of pain will never torment you.
You will be at home and at peace. All tears will be wiped from your eyes. There will be no death, no mourning, no crying, and no pain. And then you will see the King in his beauty. Your eyes shall behold him. In your flesh, you shall see God, and in his presence you will find fullness of joy.
What Rejoicing in Hope Produces
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12)
As you learn to rejoice in hope, you will not be overcome by life’s hardships. Instead, you will overcome them with good:
You will learn to have patience in tribulation.
“Tribulation” means to be crushed, pressed, squeezed, stressed, burdened, or troubled. If your hope is in this world, then when your life in this world is crushed, your hope will be crushed with you. But when your hope is in another world, when you are crushed here and now, you will have the capacity to endure it with patience. Rejoicing in hope makes it possible for you to be patient in affliction.
You will learn to be constant in prayer.
There is more here than praying once in a while when you feel the need. Make prayer the habit and pattern of your life. The more you believe that God is merciful, the more you will be drawn to come to him in prayer. We have a merciful High Priest, Jesus, the Son of God. He knows what it is to suffer. He is able to sympathize with us because he has been through it himself. Therefore let us come confidently to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16).
Hope in Hard Times
Do you have a hope in which you can rejoice? Do you have a patience with which you can endure? Do you know the help of God on whom you can call? Because all of this is offered to you by God in Jesus Christ!
When your hope is in him, and in all that he holds in store for you, your hope will touch and change every area of your life. Place all your troubles into the hands of Jesus Christ, and look in hope to him.
[This article is an adaptation of Pastor Colin’s sermon “Overcoming Evil with Steadiness.”]
[Photo Credit: Unsplash]
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