Sustaining the Joy
Romans 12:2 "We are to be joyful in hope, patient in suffering and faithful in prayer" The three parts of this verse spoke to me and I wanted to spend time exploring what each piece can mean in each of our lives. The phrase joyful in hope spoke to me. Happiness is an elusive and transient emotion; however we spend so much of life chasing that. We want to be happy in our lives. And instead GOD offers us something very different than just happiness. True joyfulness is found in the living hope that is Christ and HIS living sacrifice. It's not a joy that is found by sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring the problems around us. It is not a joy that is found by loosely holding onto some karmic expectation of GOD that he will do good by us as long as we do good by him. No. This hope that we cling to is the living and breathing body of Christ. HIS body battered and bruised. HIS body hung naked and in shame for people to mock. HIS body which rested in a tomb for three days but then overcame death and sin itself. HIS body which proclaimed victory once and all for us while we were still in sin. HIS body which sits gloriously at the Father's right hand interceding for us constantly. That's the hope should propel us. When our eyes are fixed on that image and reality of the GOD we save we can feel nothing but joy. Our suffering does not compare to the magnitude to the love that cascades over us. So resist the urge to let the waves of doubt or anxiety overtake you. In those moments when your heart and mind are being overwhelmed remind your problem how big your GOD is . Speak resolutely and stand in truth knowing that nothing in this world can pull you away from HIS love. And rejoice in that be filled with joy. Secondly, we are called to be patient in suffering. I will be honest. There are people that I pray for in my life and I ask GOD to change and heal like Paul on the road to Damascus. It's a beautifully terrifying moment of instantaneous transformation. I crave for an instant moment of change so I can feel peace and rest easy. Then when those moments don't happen I can feel the dismay creeping up. So in those experiences how can I develop patience? This chapter points multiple times to the constant renewal of our minds in the LORD. Impatience is our human nature craving control. We have such a limited view of time because all we can see is our lifetimes. Minutes, days and years seem to just be closing in on us constantly. But we belong to a GOD who has no beginning or end. Time is not something that can constrict our GOD. We are called to let go of the yoke of expectations we place on ourselves . Instead we can take yoke of rest that Jesus gives because we can acknowledge that we don’t when something will resolve. And we don't have to know in order to experience GOD's strength and comfort. My peace does not come from the resolution of a struggle; rather, that peace comes from knowing GOD deeper and deeper while I wait. As it says in Ecclesiastes 3:11 "HE has made everything beautiful in its time. HE has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what GOD has done from beginning to end." And finally the key to fully embracing these action items; faithfulness in prayer. Not the kind of prayer that implores and pleads from a place of fear. Not the kind of prayer which expects GOD to be some genie fixing our needs. Faithfulness in prayer is that daily commitment and submission to the King of the Universe who out of his love looks at each one of us as HIS child. This prayer will shake us out of most deeply held beliefs and re-structure the way we view the world. It's this time of faithful prayer that GOD uses to remind us that our problems are nothing in front of HIM. The type of prayer that reminds us that even when we feel like Peter drowning in the sea, we are always just an arms reach away from the one who orders the winds and the waves. These are not complex concepts and most of us have in some way heard these principles our whole life growing up. What resonated with me this week was that this verse challenges my humanly perception of how I am to respond in these situations. It also challenged my perception of my troubles. We all have a tendency to become so fixated on the things which trouble us and they can loom larger than the very GOD we are privileged to serve. So I am using this verse to challenge my daily rhythms and the mental frameworks I cling to. I am using this verse to remind myself in every day and in every moment there is joy to be found. There is renewal to be experienced. And not by my work or efforts; but, rather by the Father who takes every morsel of my tepid submission and turns it into HIS immeasurable glory.