Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Scripture optimistically calls us to the best in the middle of difficult circumstances: Hope is great, but joy in hope is greater; surviving affliction is great, but patience in affliction is greater; occasional prayer is helpful, but faithfulness in prayer is greater.
Qualifiers make the difference: “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” I wonder, is Paul saying that prayer elevated to steadfast, faithful prayer reaps a better harvest? Oswald Chambers surely thought this when he wrote, “Prayer does not equip us for greater works—[faithful] prayer is the greater work.”
So I ask, Could it be that even (especially?) when you need hope in the throes of affliction, your faithfulness in prayer produces joyful hope along with life-changing patience? We may prefer Scripture to say “Faithfully pray and all your troubles will disappear,” but thankfully Scripture possesses a deeper insight: circumstances need not limit your joy or define your patience.
Thanks be to God!
Almighty God, every day your optimistic gospel calls to a high standard. Stretch me, Lord, into goodness, wholeness, and your holy ways. Help me not to settle for less, grumble through difficulties, or obey randomly when it suits me best.
Prayer Journal Reflections
What is the Holy Spirit saying to you today about the Lord’s protection, direction, and revelation for your life and the life of the church?
—Phil Fuller, District Superintendent, Virginia