Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12 ESV).
We are to rejoice in the hope (of our salvation), patient in tribulation (because of the certainty of our hope) and constant in prayer (taking our worries, trials and everyday stuff to God). Seems simple enough right? But when joined with the suffix of each phrase – the simplicity is seemingly exchanged for practicality. How can I rejoice in hope? Isn’t patience in tribulation enabling toxicity? Pray constantly?
What is the true value of being patient in trials? James 1:2-4 truly captures the essence beautifully, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” In the Message translation verses 3-4 are rendered like this, “So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”
Patience should not be seen as a passive trait, that only requires the twiddling of thumbs and the silencing of voices – this is certainly not the case! The parable of the 10 virgins waited for the bridegroom but only 5 of them had prepared for the occasion (Matthew 25 1-13). Often times, we are like the virgins not adequately preparing but whiling away time under the guise of exercising patience. Passive patience essentially sends you into shut-down mode. Active patience, the type required to endure, is a like a quiet but bright fire waxing strong within – it says do not give up, keep going – exercise control.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf explains the virtue like this, “Patience is not passive resignation, nor is it failing to act because of our fears. Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something and doing all that we can—working, hoping, and exercising faith; bearing hardship with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts seem to be are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well!” Joy, patience and steadfastness (or faithfulness) are all requirements for Christians but they are also fruits of the Spirit. This means through and by following the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives we can achieve and truly live out these traits daily!
I like the contrast; although we are called to be patient during difficult times, we are NOT to get complacent in our praying or our joy in Christ – we are to constantly rejoice in the fact that Christ died for our sins and has conquered death, on our behalf – making us joint-heirs with Him! Rejoice! Be patient! Be steadfast!