Key Words for the Week

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In my Bible Romans 12:9-21 is titled: Love in Action. But one particular verse stuck out this morning among the many characteristics given that describe a believer “in love with Jesus.”

Romans 12:12 says: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

While all the other characteristics seem to have a here-and-now sense to them, these three also have a what-happens-tomorrow feeling.

We hope something will be true, but we aren’t sure. Perhaps the present circumstances make things feel like our hope might be in vain. We get gloomy and depressed as hope fades. Paul tells us to turn our gloom into glory and our depression into dancing and be joyful as we hope for the Lord’s grace in whatever is yet to be.

Affliction can be a present circumstance, but it can also be something to which we see no end. Because we understand that in this world we will have tribulation (John 16:33)—that’s a promise—we are to endure it with patience. There are lessons to be learned (Romans 5:3; 2 Corinthians 1:3). Indeed, patience is a product of difficulty.

There is nothing that sparks prayer like hoping where there doesn’t seem to be much hope or tribulation that doesn’t seem to want to go away. Perhaps fading hope and tribulation are needed to guarantee that we pray. In prayer we are to be faithful and true faithfulness is gauged, not by how much of it we do when hope fades and difficulties come, but how much of it we do when we are surrounded by peace and prosperity.

Joyful in hope. Patient in tribulation. Faithful in prayer. Three good words to hang this week on. Write them out and stick them up somewhere where you will see them. At the end of the week, look back and see how well you did at living them out.

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