Scripture Reading: Romans 12:12-13 (New International Version)
12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practise hospitality
Thought for the day:
Christmas is rapidly approaching. For some people, Christmas is a time of looking back to better times with more than a tinge of sadness. For others, it is a time of intense joy and happiness as they celebrate all that is good about family. As we consider our short verses today, let me try to take us all back to our childhood.
I don’t know what your family life was like as a child, but I suspect that for all of us, there was at least one moment during the Christmas period where a gift or two was shared. In my home, there were many, many presents given and received. Generally, I received something for Christmas that I would not have been given at other times of the year. It was a unique time of giving and receiving. On many occasions, I knew some of the gifts that I would receive but for so many more times, I was completely clueless as to what lay at the base of the Christmas tree. For days or even weeks before Christmas day, the only thing that I thought of was exactly what I would receive on that morning. There was never a thought of receiving a bad gift. As far as I was concerned, all the presents would be good. I didn’t know what I was getting, but the hope of receiving all those good things filled me with joy. I was the embodiment of verse 12: ‘Be joyful in hope’. There was no place for sadness because I had so much hope and hope doesn’t disappoint! Of course, the verse doesn’t end there. We are encouraged to do two specific things in verse 12 – to be patient and to be faithful. There are two corresponding circumstances that are intrinsically linked that almost pass us by unless we are careful to observe what is being written. We like the Hope that is spoken of in the first stanza. But what about the affliction that is so quickly spoken of? When we read Scripture as a whole, it is impossible to ignore the obvious presence of trials, sickness and affliction. However, the underlying message in all of that is to be patient and trust our Almighty God. Not all of us will endure hardships to the extent that the apostle Paul went through. There are not many, if any, of us reading this devotion who will be beaten as a result of our keeping and proclaiming our faith. But probably, most of us will know some kind of affliction that doesn’t seem to be in keeping with the good gifts that flow from our ‘good, good Father’. In all those times, we are to be patient and be faithful in prayer.
Prayer and Application:
The ‘secret’ to enduring hardship and to being full of hope is to be faithful in prayer. When we spend time in His presence, He becomes all we need. May we all move closer and deeper into a relationship with Him.