Be Joyful in Hope.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)
If Covid-19 had a honeymoon period, it’s worn off by now. I still feel a little dazed by the events of the second half of March: the blistering news headlines, the unexpected upheaval, the epic government interventions and the unprecedented changes to our way of life being made with breath-taking speed. It’s all still just beginning to sink in really, and as we head into April we’re bracing ourselves for the long haul. Months of no physical contact, no school or parties or events, working from home or desperately trying to find new work, and the ever-present risk of infection.
What does the Bible have to say to us as we enter this new phase, this war of attrition with Covid-19? I think what Paul says in Romans 12:12 is very apt right now: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” These are three things we can be doing right now, three ways to help us get through this crisis in the best shape possible.
Be joyful in hope. We have to hope that this virus will one day go away, or be brought completely under control. We can hope that life returns to normal, or, even better, that the seismic effects of this pandemic give us a rare opportunity to fundamentally reform our society and make it better, fairer, cleaner. Whatever you hope for, cling to that hope, and don’t let the drudgery of the days or the doom-and-gloom headlines rob you of it. Be joyful in your hope. Joy is choosing happiness when it won’t come willingly. And most importantly, for ourselves and those that have died or are seriously ill, we have hope of eternal life in Jesus. This hope means we need fear neither disease nor death.
Be patient in affliction. We’re going to have to knuckle down and get through this. Being hopeful doesn’t mean we won’t have to grit our teeth and trudge through some days, because we will. This will be hard, but we’ve got to be patient. The Biblical word persevere is better – keep doing the right things, long after it stopped being easy. Let’s persevere in being hopeful, but also persevere in following government and public health guidelines. It’s not fun, but if we let up too soon, we could cause enormous damage to society and those around us. Keep going!
Be faithful in prayer. Finally, we should all be praying. When you’ve done and said all you can do, pray about the things you can’t do, the things beyond your control. Pray for strength for yourself, healing for others and wisdom for our leaders. Pray for miracles to restore those at death’s door. Pray for supernatural protection for our heroic doctors and nurses on the front-line, and pray for speedy breakthroughs in the scientific realm. And pray for our society to come through this healthier than it was before, more open, more caring, more sustainable. Whatever you pray for, be faithful in it. Keep it up. Prayer isn’t a one-off throwaway but a way of life, a dialogue between us and He who made us. Pray, pray, and then pray some more. Pray until there’s literally nothing left to pray for.
These words of Paul brought great encouragement to an ancient community of believers in Rome, but they’ve never been more relevant. God bless you all through the weeks and months ahead.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
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