"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction & faithful in prayer". Romans
I read this verse a long time ago and while I really liked it & stuck it to my bathroom mirror to remember, I didn't completely understand the first phrase, "be joyful in hope". The rest of the verse made perfect sense to me, but this first part was a little more difficult. I felt like it would require more of me possibly than the later two statements. I understood what it would take to me patent in affliction and faithful in prayer; but joyful in hope?
I began looking up the meaning for the words joyful & hope. I really like doing this because there are so many times that I think I know what a verse means until I begin to search out the roots of the word. I found this definition of joy.
Joy; "Happiness over an unanticipated or present good."
Joy is in the root of rejoicing which is how the Geneva and the King James both translate the Greek text to say. And here is the definition of hope that I found.
Hope ; "To trust in, wait for, look for, or desire something or someone; or to expect something beneficial in the future."
So, according to these two definitions I am to be happy or cheerful as I trust in and wait for the Lord to do something outstanding in my life. That sounds all good and biblical, but not very realistic to me. If my life is falling apart, how am I to be happy? How can I be happy that my life is falling apart? (My life is not falling apart by the way; I just think it is sometimes) Here is what I have come to realize about this part of the verse. God NEVER expects me be happy that I am experiencing difficulties. He's not even happy that I am experiencing them. What I am to be happy or joyful about is the fact that he is at work in my life, he is going to do something great, he is going to reveal himself to me in ways I can not even imagine. I am to be joyful in the hope of what he is about to do in my life. That sounds like a lot more fun!
It means that while I am in the midst of my boat called life and the waves are splashing up against the boat, spraying me in the face, I can look out and see him standing in the boat with me, keeping the waves from sinking my boat. He is getting ready to calm the sea, but first he wants me to trust him. That is another part of the definition of hope; "to trust in". It is very easy to say that we trust God in our lives, but when it really comes down to it, do we?
I fail at this so often. I say that I trust him to answer my prayer or to take care of something, but when I see the clock clicking away & he doesn't seem to be doing anything about it, I step in and play God again. It would be like me taking the oars in the boat and trying to row back to shore. The shore looks safer than the storm I'm in so I want to go back. And God in all of his mercy let's me go back to shore at times. He gives me what I want. And it is the same outcome every time. FAILURE! I don't trust, instead I think that I can do a better job than God! Oh my goodness, doesn't that sound wonderful? WRONG! Who am I to think that I can do a better job than the one who simply spoke me into existence...forget me; he spoke the whole universe into existence. Have you see how big it is out there & here I am thinking that I know how to handle my life better than he would.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares
the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than
your ways and my thought than your thoughts." Isaiah 55: 8,9 (NIV)
The honest fact is that none of us can even get out of bed in the morning if our God doesn't want us to. He is every aspect of every second of our day. He thinks about us more than there are grains of sand on the sea shore.
"How precious are your thoughts about me O God! They are innumerable. I can't
even count them; they outnumber the grains of the sand!" (Psalms 139:7-8)
He loves us so deeply that he gave his son to die so that we wouldn't have to. The emotions that I experience when I think about the depth of that love, that I am not even capable of, are enormous! I am engraved on the palm of his hand, he will not forget me!
"See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;" (Isaiah 49:16)
Why wouldn't I be joyful in hope? Why wouldn't I trust him to do a better job than I am doing with my life? Why wouldn't I be happy that he is about to do a great new thing in my life!
Isaiah 43:19, For I am about to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun!
Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness for my people to
come home. I will create rivers for them in the desert!
I found this commentary in the Matthew Henry's, and I thought was very thought provoking.
" He is honored by our hope and trust in him, especially when we rejoice in that
hope. He is served, not only by working for him, but by sitting still quietly,
when he calls us to suffer. Patience for God's sake, is true piety. Those that
rejoice in hope, are likely to be patient in tribulation. We should not be cold
in the duty of prayer, nor soon weary of it" (Matthew
Remembering that my life is not really about me, rather it is all about God puts this verse all in perspective. I can be joyful in my hope of his touch on my life as I am patient in my affliction and faithful in my prayers, because it is through him that all things happen.
Heavenly Father, help me to rejoice in my expectancy and trust of your working in my life. A~men!