It’s a new day! Let us begin it with our confident hope!
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 – NLT
How do you deal with uncertainty? Are you flexible, easily adapting to change? Do you relish new situations, craving the thrill of a new challenge?
For the majority of us, the answer to those questions is a resounding “No!” Most of us prefer the stable status quo. We like things running smoothly, no bumps in the road, no unscheduled stops. A new challenge is sometimes welcome, but only if we pursue it and have full control. Let’s face it. You and I like control.
Yet, these are uncertain times: a pandemic, incessant political strife, protests and unrest, unemployment and financial struggles, sickness, loss, grief. The list goes on and on. Just typing the words makes me tense.
The news cycle shifts at a dizzying pace. Our typical activities are altered. Gyms are closed. Gathering with friends is limited. Even most church doors are still closed. We are forced to make daily decisions about what is safe and appropriate for us to do. No more spontaneous shopping adventures. Now we second guess ourselves about entering a store or eating out.The only thing that seems certain is the constant state of uncertainty. No small wonder anxiety and depression are skyrocketing.
In the face of all this upheaval and uncertainty, how do we cope? Perhaps the answer lies in the ancient words of the Apostle Paul. Take a look at the powerful words of Romans 12:12. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12). It seems to me that within that one verse lies three surefire strategies for living in uncertain times. Let’s take a closer look at Paul’s admonition.
Let’s start with prayer. Paul exhorts us to be “faithful in prayer.” Pray without ceasing. Release your concerns to The Lord. We can’t solve all the problems that surround us, but He can. We must trust in His power, His purposes, His protection. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul encourages prayer as a way to address the anxiety we all face in this earthly life. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6). Relieve anxiety by presenting your concerns to God, trusting Him to work things out. What happens when we trust God with our concerns? “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7). Peace…our prayers will bring us peace. Our hearts and minds will be guarded, protected, shielded by Christ Jesus.
Secondly, Paul advises us to be “patient in affliction.” Accept that adversity and affliction are part of living in this fallen and sinful world. We are not promised a trouble-free life. Jesus even warned us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We must let go of regret and resentment, accepting things as they are, and trusting that God can work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). Approach troubles with a stance of patience, believing that through Christ, we can overcome whatever adversity or affliction that may come our way.
Finally, Paul advocates that we “be joyful in hope.” Paul links hope with joy. When we face troublesome times, joy seems far away. But Paul sees joy and hope as being beautifully intertwined. Hear these other hope laden words from Paul, “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13). Notice Paul references not just hope, but a confident hope, a hope that is solid, substantial, firmly founded on trust. It is a hope that is alive, overflowing, unfailing. It is a hope that not only brings joy, but also peace. Let your hope bring you joy, for joy is not the absence of hardship, but rather, the assurance of hope.
So let us heed Paul’s loving instruction, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4). Friends, let your hope bring you joy. Be patient in trouble. Pray without ceasing. Take heart! God’s great love for us never fails. His mercies are new every morning. Of that, we can be certain.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:21-23 – NIV
O Lord God, Great is Your faithfulness. Your mercies are new every morning. Lord, see us through these uncertain times. Shield us, comfort us, deliver us from the troubles that encircle us. Help us to hang onto our confident hope, and may that hope bring us Your joy and Your peace.