Rejoice in Hope. Here in Romans, Paul is laying out the marks of a true Christian. We rejoice in the hope we have in Christ “and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5, ESV). What a precious promise! Hope has been the word I believe God has given me in this season. I came up with this acronym for HOPE: Have Optimistic Perspectives & Expectations. My last word was surrender, but after surrendering everything to God, I am hopefully waiting for him to make something beautiful out of the mess I just handed off. Hope is a mindset that I have to be confidently living in to combat my fears and failures. We do not want to be naive and ignore proper preparation for our futures, but we should look forward with hope as our acceleration.
Being an anxious person, I need to anticipate my future with an optimistic perspective, not a negative assumption, or destructive thoughts will keep me discouraged. One of my favorite verses on hope is Hebrews 6:19, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (NIV). Life’s troubles so often overwhelm us, but Christ is the anchor that keeps our ship stable in a sea of uncertainty. I know where my hope lies when everything seems to be weighing me down because, at the end of the day, my “sure and steadfast anchor” is already at the bottom of my storm-tossed sea keeping me grounded (ESV). What/who is your anchor?
Be Patient in Tribulation. Patience has never been a virtue I was particularly good at, especially when it comes to trials. I am hard on myself because I want to be the best so failure hits me hard and fast. If you have read any of my early posts, the ones I wrote while keeping this blog in private mode (until recently), you have a taste of my past/present trials. Moving out after graduation was a step for me to get healthier after experiencing a roller coaster ride of ups and downs away at college. Unfortunately, living on my own continued the old, jerky roller coaster ride of managing a healthy work/life balance, finding stable relationships, battling personal struggles, and building healthy boundaries; but hey, that’s just life and you have to ride it out.
The last 3 years of my life have stretched me beyond my known abilities to manage change. I’ve since learned that trials are an opportunity for growth causing me to hold fast to my faith because when everything else is changing, Christ is constant. Another verse that speaks joy into my turbulent situations is John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world [emphasis added]” (NIV). What good news! My failure is not final because in Him, “It is finished” (John 19:30). I can find everlasting peace in Christ’s finished work on the cross and be patient with myself because the trials I am experiencing have already been overcome.
Be Constant in Prayer. As Christians, how can we “rejoice in hope” and “be patient in tribulation” if we are not communicating with God in those moments? Prayer is grossly underrated and underestimated. We pray over meals, pray when people are sick, and pray when we are in need, but we are not constant. Your prayer life should not come in waves, it should be an ocean saturating your very soul. We have a personal relationship with the living God who hears us; why do we not use that communication method more fervently? I know my prayer life is not as consistent as it should be, but I am working on my communication skills both vertically and horizontally 😉 Prayer is to be ceaseless (1 Thessalonians 5:17) but how can we expect God to come through if we are relying on our own abilities and not asking him to intercede?
Personally speaking, self-reliance is a hindrance in my own walk. In James 4:2 we’re told, “You do not have, because you do not ask” (ESV). God wants to give us good things as his children; we need only come humbly to his feet and present our requests. But when we do ask, are our hearts in the right place? “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3, ESV). Even when we do not speak, God hears our hearts and knows our motives, “for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8, ESV).
Ironically, I am a “words of affirmation” person who seldom uses words to express what I am really feeling or desiring. Thankfully, God is bigger than my fear of intimacy and vulnerability with people and seeks out my heart even when I’m hiding it. Having said that, we are not excused from the direction to “pray like this” as Jesus outlines in Matthew 6:9-15 just because he knows our needs [highly recommend challenging yourself with that instructional scripture on prayer].
I hope I have given you some good things to think about! I’ll leave you with this:
- Be joyful
- Be hopeful
- Be patient
- Be constant
- Be prayerful
- Be purposeful