“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud., but be willing to associate with people of low position.” Romans 12:9-16
If you are looking for a guide on how to live a godly and fulfilling life, this passage is it in a nutshell.
Cling to what is good. God is good. Gratitude is good. Hope, love, faith are good. Forgiveness and selflessness are good. When I hear the word “cling” I think of a baby chimp hanging on to his mother. Trusting her to take him where he needs to go, keeping him safe and warm. He has to cling on to her because she is using her arms and legs to keep moving. God is moving, we have to cling to him. We have to choose Him. You have to cling to Him as if your life depends on it, because it does. Because darkness is constantly trying to steal the good. And too often we let it.
Can I just say that “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer” is becoming my new anthem? I often find myself skeptical of hope, impatient and angry in affliction and impassioned in prayer. Am I alone in this? I don’t think I am. I see/hear it all the time around me. People have a hard time clinging to good.
I want to be joyful in hope. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 1:19) I had so many years of false hope, hope for a change that would never happen. So when I started my new life, I shied away from hope. I didn’t dare hope for anything beyond surviving. I couldn’t bring myself to hope for financial stability, for resolution from my past, for a true and godly love from a man. Hope hurt too much. But now I feel the stirrings of hope building up in me again. And it is bringing me joy, because I am seeing God’s heart for me. He could do “just enough” to help me survive. He could be hands off and let me do my own thing, but he isn’t. He hears my silent tears in the night. He answers my prayers in such a way that makes me feel more cared for than I have ever felt in my life. I have learned to be specific and detailed in my prayers but also holding everything up to him with open hands and praying for His will because I have seen that His way benefits not only myself but those around me as well. This last year He has continually given me a way to provide for my kids. It is a responsibility that I never thought I would have, to be the breadwinner of our family, and it is a mighty hard task for someone who with no education to speak of. But he is faithful in his care for us. I am joyful in my hope for a home of our own one day! And while I am quite content (most of the time) as a single woman, I am finally willing to “tentatively” hope for someone to share my life with. Of course this is the most complicated part of my healing and therefor my hope is often challenged by fear and self doubt and just a dash of “Hell no!” Kidding, but not really…. But that is why I am surrounded by good friends who so kindly remind me that not all men are life sucking predators, lol. So I will bite my lip and try to hope for better than I believe is really out there for me.
Patient in affliction-ummm hello 2020….I am defiantly not alone when I say that this year has been one of affliction. I can’t even go into all the hell that this year has let loose but I can say that I have not always been patient in it. I just want it to end. I want schools to be open and normal. I want to be able to shake peoples hands and give hugs (yes even in public!!!). I want us to be able to see each others faces and smiles. I want to not be worried about riots and hate and division. I just want something to feel consistent and stable. But we are told to be patient. So I will turn my eyes on the Lord and wait patiently for him. I will try and be flexible with the ever changing landscape of this life and be grateful for what we have. Affliction is not the end. It is a great teacher though. Through affliction I have learned compassion, resilience and the power of forgiveness. Patience is not learned without inconvenience or affliction.
Faithful in prayer. My favorite part of this passage, maybe because it is the one I don’t struggle with so much, haha. Prayer is a healing balm to my soul. It gives me energy and passion and drive. Prayer is an all day every day kind of thing. Sometimes it’s what my grandma Betty used to call “pop corn prayers” because life as mom is busy and fast and draining so all we can manage is quick “help me Jesus” prayer. Often its an hour long conversation with my maker while on a hike or walk. Sometimes its what lulls me to sleep as I lay my burdens down at his feet at night. Whatever prayer looks like for you, the goal is to be faithful in it. Not to only remember to pray when big hard things are in front of you. Being faithful in prayer means fighting for others who need support, who maybe can’t fight for themselves at the time. Prayer is going to war against the unseen with a mighty weapon. Prayer is a release of pretense and a time when you know you can truly be who you are and say what you really think and knowing that God loves you anyway. Prayer is the front line of the battlefield. I am sure to have drawn some funny glances from people who pass by me when I’m out on my prayer walks. My arms moving, talking out loud, usually a few tears on my face, sometimes singing and yes even dancing a little (if you can call what I do dancing, my kids would probably challenge that definition). The point is that faithful prayer warriors are vital, we need all the warriors we can get in this crazy, unpredictable world. So be a warrior.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. Yes Jesus, let it be so.