Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. —Romans 12:12
On June 22, 1879, the great Victorian preacher, Charles Spurgeon, preached a sermon on this text in which he said the first two phrases—rejoice in hope and be patient in affliction—are powerful antidotes against poison, but they must be taken with prayer. “Joy and patience are curative essences,” he said, “but they must be dropped into a glass full of supplication, and then they will be wonderfully efficient.”
These are the Great Physician’s three prescriptions for tough times: Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. Take each phrase in turn, memorize it, meditate on it, consider its implications, then go on to the next.
Rejoice in hope. When we can’t rejoice in circumstances, we can rejoice in the anticipation of what God’s going to do with them, in them, through them, despite them, and because of them. On cloudy days the sun still shines as brightly as ever in the center of the solar system; and when we rejoice in hope, we’re saying, “Despite current conditions, the Son is shining for me as brightly as ever with healing in His rays.”
Be patient in affliction. Rejoicing in hope enables us to be patient in affliction. Patience is hope in different clothing. It’s the ability to wait calmly as the Lord works everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.
Be persistent in prayer. “Whenever your hope seems to fail you and your joy begins to sink,” said Spurgeon, “the shortest method is to take to your knees. By remembering the promise in prayer, hope will be sustained and then joy is sure to spring from it.” An open Bible and a bowed head create a powerful atmosphere in which God’s will is brought to bear upon the distresses of life. Jesus even recommended we “nag” God with our requests, like a persistent neighbor at a friend’s door or a relentless widow harassing a presiding judge.
Romans 12:12 is a shot in the arm for whatever ails us.
- Rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given you. (Deut. 26:11)
- Rejoice in the presence of the Lord Your God. (Deut. 27:7)
- Rejoice in the shadow of [His] wings. (Ps. 63:7)
- Rejoice in… praise. (Ps. 106:47)
- Rejoice in the way revealed by [His] decrees. (Ps. 119:14)
- Rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. (Isa. 29:19)
- Rejoice in [His] house of prayer. (Isa. 56:7)
- Rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (Rom. 5:2)
- Rejoice in hope. (Rom. 12:12)
- Rejoice in the Lord always. (Phil. 4:4)
Prayer brings us into that state of grace where tribulation is not only endured, but where there is under it a spirit of rejoicing. —E. M. Bounds
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