When someone is in the midst of a soul-crushing trial, it's hard to know what to say to them without sounding trite, but by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul knew exactly what the persecuted church in Rome needed to hear. He gave them three keys that would carry them through the hardships they were enduring: Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. [Romans 12:12]
Be Joyful in Hope
You may say, "Are you kidding me, Paul? Joyful? I'm barely hanging on by a thread here, I've got nothing left". You do have something left, you have hope. As long as there is a prayer-answering almighty God who loves you, there is hope. Hope produces joy. Joy and happiness are two different things. Happiness depends on outward events and circumstances, it comes and goes. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit which, no matter the circumstances, produces a lasting inner sense of wellbeing, wholeness and peace. The joy of the Lord is our strength [Nehemiah 8:10]. Isn't that exactly what you need right now?
Be Patient in Affliction
"Patient? Seriously? Patient? Get me out of this mess NOW!" Paul teaches us that when we face affliction, we must stand firm, don't run away, don't quit, don't be anxious, don't go looking for Plan B, just stand firm and trust God to see you through. It will come in His timing. It will unfold according to His plan and purpose. When the going gets rough, when you don't think you can take it anymore, just hang in there, God is faithful and able, the answer to your prayers is on the way.
Be Faithful in Prayer
I've heard people say, "I pray and things don't seem to get any better". Yes, God answers the prayers of those who trust and believe, but He isn't some sort of cosmic vending machine that dispenses whatever you want when you push the 'prayer' button. For many, prayer is like that little red box on the wall that says, "In case of Emergency Break Glass". Prayer is not just for emergencies. One thing that the Bible is telling us to do when it says, "be faithful in prayer" is to have a consistent, ongoing two-way conversation with God. Some parents only hear from their grown children when they need money. Many of us treat God the same way. Our Heavenly Father wants us to come to Him in times of need, but He also wants a day-by-day intimate relationship with us. He wants to share good times and bad, our questions and revelations, our highest hopes and broken dreams. He is our Father and best friend.,
When Jesus taught about faithfulness in prayer, he said, "
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened". [Mat 7:7-8] This literally means that we should ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking. The answer to our prayers often does not come as quickly as we would like, but we are encouraged to be both consistent and persistent in prayer. The answer will come in God's perfect timing. Most often, the answer will come in ways that we never expected or imagined. That is one of the many, many things I love about the Lord. When the answer comes, our immediate response should be to give Him thanks and praise.
All day long I will tell
the wonderful things you do
to save your people.
But you have done much more
than I could possibly know.
I will praise you, LORD God,
for your mighty deeds
and your power to save.
You have taught me
since I was a child,
and I never stop telling about
your marvelous deeds.
My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,
of your saving acts all day long—
though I know not how to relate them all.
I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign LORD;
I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.
Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.