Theology for Everybody: Romans (Day 263)

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. —Romans 12:12

Paul tells us to “rejoice in hope” and “be patient in tribulation.” In our broken world, we can never have enough hope and patience. There will always be trying seasons that seem longer and harder than you can bear. Every person you meet is probably enduring something you don’t know about and carrying burdens you may not be able to see.

How should believers handle tribulation? Well, the context of Romans 12 is to be transformed, not conformed. Transformation comes through hope and prayer. The Christian and the non-Christian can both go through the same thing but process it very differently. Hope says something like this: “I know this situation is very difficult, but I know God exists, He has authority, and He is involved. Furthermore, the God I worship is Jesus Christ. He came into human history, and whatever I’m going through, He’s been through something similar, and He knows how

to get through it. In addition, Jesus has given me the Holy Spirit, the same power who got Him through it, to get me through it. As I go through it, I’m going grow in character and become more like Jesus, and I will have greater appreciation for His enduring the kind of thing that I’m enduring. And on the other side of it, at some point it will end. I’m going to be with Jesus forever, and everything is going to be perfect.”

Hope and prayer make tribulation survivable for believers.

Paul then says to “be constant in prayer.” Prayer will allow you to process tribulation with God. Rather than venting, you pray. Rather than drinking, self-destructing, or self-medicating, you pray. We need to stop posting on social media and start praying and inviting God into our situations.

There are things you cannot carry that you need God to carry with you and for you. You transfer those burdens to Him in prayer. This doesn’t mean things will magically be okay, but it does mean that you are okay. Things may not change and get better, but you will change for the better.

As you have hope and prayer through your tribulation, God will increase your pain threshold. This is a blessing and a gift. If you want to have greater character, then you need to increase your pain threshold. If you want to have greater ministry, then you need to increase your pain threshold. If you want to lead at higher levels of leadership, then you need to increase your pain threshold. The people who are most like Jesus have endured a lot. They have paid a great price to be in that position and to have an insightful, powerful ministry.

God will take what is potentially evil, and He will use it for your good, if you will surround yourself with hope and prayer. So many people face things in life that they are convinced will kill them. They think, There is no way I’m going to make it! But they are still here. If you are a believer, then you are stronger than you think, and God’s grace is always more available than you anticipate.

Today’s Reflection

What past difficulties are you surprised to have survived and even overcome?

This is an excerpt from Theology for Everybody: Romans, a 365-Day DevotionalClick here to get your copy.

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