We are not promised a life without struggle here on earth. In fact, the Bible makes clear that the world will hate us for our love of Jesus. John 15:18-19 says, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” Jesus even promises us in John 16:33, “In the world you will have tribulation.” Except John, each disciple was martyred for his faith in Christ, and John was exiled to the prison island of Patmos for preaching that Jesus is God. We live in an imperfect world wrought with the destruction sin and separation from God has caused. You and I will face trials here as followers of Jesus.
In light of Jesus’ promise of problems here on earth, it’s interesting that Paul would write in Romans 12:12, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Paul knew all too well the trials we as believers can face in the world, but he wasn’t about to let them affect his ability to “rejoice in hope.” Along with promising us tribulation, Scripture speaks of the perspective we as believers are to have in light of our restored relationship with God. Hebrews 13:14 says, “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” Scripture is clear that this world is not your home. Jesus commands us in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The Bible doesn’t tell us that trials won’t hurt here. Being disliked by others or the loss of a loved one, a job, or finances will not feel good. But you can “rejoice in hope” and “be patient in tribulation” with the knowledge that the trials you suffer here will one day end. Earthly success and possessions are not the goal because “the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17). And you are promised an eternity with your heavenly Father where “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
So in light of the hope we have in God, how can we be obedient to his word in Romans 12:12? How can we consistently “rejoice in hope” and “be patient in tribulation” when everything seems to be crashing down around us? Only by being obedient to the last exhortation in Romans 12:12: “Be constant in prayer.” James 5:13-15 says, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.” There is power in praying to God. Just as God has answered his children in the past, he will answer you. If you need his peace, pray and ask him for it. If you need to be reminded of what matters, pray and ask for revelation from the Holy Spirit. Humble yourself before your brothers and sisters in Christ and ask for their prayer. “Be constant in prayer,” always conversing with your heavenly Father.
God knows what it is to suffer. He knows what it is to go through trial and tribulation. Through every problem, Jesus exemplified what it is to “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation,” and “be constant in prayer.” Spend time with Jesus today in prayer. Allow the Spirit to mold and shape you into his likeness. May his love lay an unshakable foundation for you to remain hopeful and patient in every trial and tribulation that comes your way. Jesus says, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). In this is our hope: Jesus overcame the world, and so will we. Spend time with the One who has overcome every trial you are going through. Receive his guidance and direction today as you pray.