Romans 12:12 tells us to, "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." Rejoicing pours out with no problem when things are going well, when hope fills my heart. I love those times when praising God comes easily, when it flows from my heart and out of my mouth or through my writing. Hope encourages me and allows me to encourage others too.
Being patient in tribulation, those difficult times of life, can and has been a struggle. During times when life does not go as I thought it might, or hoped it would drains energy and threatens to remove my focus from the path God has laid before me. These hard times which have shown up more often than I wish they would. Satan's taunts and negativity shout to be heard above God's still small voice. Questions about whether I am following God's design for me, sharing his message and whether I can be confident in using the gifts and abilities God has given me threaten hope and glimpses of joy become fewer and fainter. I begin to doubt what message I am supposed to be sharing with others. Maybe it is that I doubt the ability or the manner in which to share the message of hope in the middle of difficulties more than what than the importance of the message of hope found through God.
During one incredibly painful circumstance a few years ago, I sat across from our pastor and voiced some of my frustrations, doubts and questions about what was happening as well as what to do next. It felt like one hard event after another slammed into our lives like waves rolling in on top of each other, each one feeling higher and harder to overcome than the last one. He encouraged me to be patient, trust God and spend time listening to God. Then he said, "Just look at all the illustrations you have when you speak or write."
I remember my reply, "Couldn't I just read about them and what happened to others?"
His gentle voice replied, "It doesn't work that way."
Even though I knew this, I hoped for an easy fix or way out of the current situation. Looking back I can see God's leading, his guidance and his protection through many circumstances I would rather have avoided. Some I have used as illustrations which in turn encouraged others.
The key for me and I believe for all who follow God is at the end of the verse - be constant in prayer. I must choose to take some quiet time and return to the Word of God, trusting the promises of a never changing God. When I do that and reflect back on his provisions through other times of negativity, doubt, pain and turmoil, hope surges in. I can once again begin to rejoice and be glad in the hope that only God offers even when darkness threatens to consume me.
Being patient, especially in tribulation, takes great effort which I have no strength to do by myself. I can only accomplish any semblance of patience by accepting God's gracious help. Verses like Romans 12: 12 serves as a reminder to always Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." which brings my focus back to what is essential - time with God. The Bible verses ground me in truth and facts rather than wallowing with my fickle feelings and emotions.
Taking time to listen to God, to hear the affirmations he sends my way and to play with word maps to see how ideas, plans and God's leading fit together help navigate life's uncertainties. They help solidify a direction and a message. The lessons learned through the tough times in life provide great illustrations to share that message of hope in our broken world.
As a speaker, published author and storyteller, Carol Harrison is passionate about mentoring people of all ages and abilities to help them find their voice and reach their fullest potential. She shares from her heart, telling stories from real life experiences and God’s Word to encourage people and help them find a glimmer of hope no matter what the circumstances. She believes we need to continuously grow in our walk with God and lives out her storytelling passion by speaking at women’s events and retreats, Bible Camps as well as school assemblies and church events. Carol is a wife, mother of four adult children and grandmother to twelve. She makes her home is Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.