"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer" (Romans 12:12)
Paul's directive to be joyful, patient and faithful in the midst of daily struggles seems like a hard pill to swallow. However, this charge comes directly on the heels of instruction to serve the Lord continually out of spiritual fervor and passion for Him. When we are walking after the Spirit and living out of our relationship to Him then these things will naturally occur in our lives because each one of these is a fruit of the spirit. These fruits are His characteristics and traits, so these characteristics in our lives are a byproduct of our relationship to Christ. As we become more and more like him we start resembling His character on a daily basis.
We are to be joyful in hope. When our hope is placed Jesus then being joyful in all things is easy because we know the hope to which we were called. I Peter says "In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade" ( I Peter 1:3-4 ). As born again believers, we know the hope that we have through Christ. Our future in heaven is secure in him by evidence of his resurrection. "Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls" ( I Peter 1:8-9 ). Just knowing that one day we will be reunited with Christ is reason enough to be joyful in all things. This inexpressible and glorious joy should be evident to everyone around because of the hope we have in Christ.
Secondly we are to be patient in affliction. Being patient is a wonderful characteristic to have. It is a quality of suffering with fortitude while enduring wrongs and trials at the hands of the world. James tells us that we are to "consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" ( James 1:2-4 ). The King James Bible says it this way, "the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing" ( James 1:3-4 KJV ). The work of patience in our lives produces maturity and completion in our faith. This is why we can be patient in affliction, because we know the result of the trial will not destroy us but rather help us grow and mature in the Lord.
Next we are to be faithful in prayer. James tells us that "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" ( James 5:16 ). Through Christ Jesus we are completely righteous which means when we pray, it is powerful and effective. This is why Paul tells us to be faithful in prayer because we know that we are releasing God's power on this earth when we pray. Jesus told the disciples "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours" ( Mark 11:24 ). When we pray in accordance with God's will then we can rest assured that the answer is yes to whatever we ask. Paul gave us an encouraging word in Romans 8 concerning this and praying in agreement to God's will, "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" ( Romans 8:28 ). Since we are called to His purpose we can pray knowing that it is effective and will work out for our good.
Joy, patience and faithfulness are all fruit of the Spirit. We can operate in all of these things because they are characteristics of God and have been deposited into our born again spirits. We can let them flow through us simply by living by His spirit and renewing our minds to the truth of His word. May this word bless you and may your fruit look like His characteristics today, amen.