“I’ve lost hope.” I hear these words quite often from my readers. I’ve been there myself. I didn’t have anyone in my life who had traveled my same path and didn’t have the encouragement to keep my spirits up. I want to be that encouragement for you today. Every single person on this planet needs what I’m going to share today. It will ground you and keep you focused. It is a magic formula! Are you ready? Here it is: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” That is Romans 12:12. This is an excellent ‘recipe’ for the rest of your life! Let’s pick apart the three elements of this verse to see how we can apply them to our lives.
“Be joyful in hope.” Webster defines hope as “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best”. I confess that Hope and I have had some struggles. Life’s pressures and disappointments can suffocate hope. I had dreams that I had slowly resigned myself from. God had other plans! He has shown me that my dreams can still happen. I remember writing down my hopes in 2004 – that I was believing God to be a speaker, writer and mentor in women’s ministry as well as in couple’s ministry with my husband. Today, I am speaking, blogging, mentoring, and Dan and I are mentoring couples and doing premarital counseling. Dreams do come true. What do you dream and hope for? Put those thoughts down on paper. Keep them someplace safe. Think about those dreams and hopes and pray about them. When you joyfully think about possibilities, you tend to work towards them.
“Be patient in affliction.” There have been several situations in our blended family that were very difficult. One situation had Dan thinking I would leave him. Another had me wondering why God would allow my children to suffer in such a way. And yet another left us shocked and mortified. Here is where your attitude and response to affliction will make or break your marriage and family. You can choose to blow up and escalate the problem or you can calm yourself, regroup, pray before you speak and then work with your spouse and family to rebuild and heal. Patience doesn’t always mean waiting and doing nothing. It can be a proactive waiting – where comfort and encouragement take place.
“Be faithful in prayer.” Oh this part of Romans 12:12 truly convicts me. How many times have I been hit with a problem and I immediately turn to Dan or a friend – or even someone in the grocery store checkout line? I also confess that I have turned to posting the problem on Facebook before I even thought about sending a post to God. Our social media society has everyone knowing everything. The problem is no one can do anything the way God can. I have had to be intentional about taking all concerns to God. It takes practice and then becomes habit forming! Jeremiah 29:11 is a favorite verse to many. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord…to prosper and not harm, to give you hope and a future.” We need to remember verse 12 and 13 – “Then you will call on me and come and pray and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
The next time you are feeling hopeless, remember the magic formula – to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. No, it’s not really magic – but it can be miraculous!