(Photo Credit: Dreamtime)
Recently I had a double take on a familiar verse found in Romans 12:12, which says, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (NIV)
This entire chapter in Romans is one that has helped me through some very difficult times, specifically when I felt like someone in my life or life itself didn’t have my best interest at heart. When I reread verse 12 something new stuck out to me. Not the affliction or prayer part, but the hope part. When Paul says to “Be joyful in hope”, it seems like an oxymoron. I mean I’ve always connected hope with joy. But what is hope? Webster Dictionary defines hope as: to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true.
Haven’t we all, at one time or another, wanted something to happen or to be true? That inner wanting can keep someone hanging onto their loved one even if they have been told that the situation is grim. It’s giving someone that drive and ambition to help win the championship game for the team, or waiting for the right person to fall in love with. Hope is a powerful thing!
Having hope during hard times can be tough enough, but to do it with joy can seem near impossible especially when your life or heart is on the line. Still the urging in this scripture is there, so I can’t just ignore it. I want to rise to the challenge.
How in the world can we hope in joy when the situation itself lacks joy? I believe the key lies in the beginning of Romans chapter 12, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” When we die to ourselves we are in a place of true worship. By worshiping God, we put ourselves aside and find ourselves in His presence. When we’ve been in the presence of God we are able to do things we could never, ever do on our own. We can love our enemies, we can bless and not curse, we can persevere, and we can hope in joy.