Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Hope, Affliction, and Prayer

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Romans 12:11-12 (NIV)

Joy in hope, really God, what does that look like? Patience in affliction, seriously Lord, how does that happen? Faithful in prayer—God, what do I do when my prayers aren’t answered? And Lord, how can I zealously serve You when all seems to be going wrong?

As residents of this world, we encounter plenty of distress, sometimes daily. Misery raises its ugly head in the forms of disease, broken relationships, death, persecution, anger, fear, lack of justice—add your own times of suffering. It’s a fact of life, but so is God. 

And what does God’s Word tell us to do in the midst of living? Be zealous, joyful, patient, and faithful. Sounds like a saint to me. How can any person carry on in such an enthusiastic way while walking a road of suffering?   

Only through belief and trust in our Almighty Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can we be zealous, joyful, patient, and faithful. When we surrender our sinful self-serving souls to a loving and saving God, He enables us to live as He would live within a wayward world. When we let go (of fear, hate, sorrow, revenge, etc.) and let God (enter our hearts with forgiveness, love, trust, and  goodness), we can be full of zeal, joy, patience, and faithfulness. And believe it or not, those qualities produce comfort. 

Consider for a moment a personal time of hardship. How did you feel? What did you do? How did you respond?

I’ve experienced the pain of broken relationships, a prodigal child, hurt, disease, death, bitter words while failing miserably at being zealous, joyful, patient, and faithful. When I focused on my sorrows, torment intensified. But when I sat in silence before God and concentrated on His blessings, His presence comforted me. His holy Word gave me hope.

Right now I’m sitting in my mother’s house in the room where she died. It is eerily quiet. Death is almost palatable but so is peace. As I touch the beautiful blanket given to her by hospice, I smell her scent. Memories of standing with my sisters around our mother’s bed while holding her hand and expressing love flood my mind. We knew we faced death, a future without our mom, but we clung to her. Even so, reality couldn’t be stopped. She passed from death to an eternal mansion while we remained inside an earthly house with reminders of her everywhere.

Clothes, furniture, trinkets, pictures—all her things surround us as we work to empty her house while clinging to treasures. My heart aches with the desire to sit with my Mom, hold her hand once again, and kiss her on the cheek. I don’t want to walk this road, Lord. I want my Mama.

But God moves me forward with His love. I know my mom is free of pain and suffering. I know she lives with Him forever. I recollect our times together. I take away memories of love and happiness. I trust Him to walk with me on this painful path. 

My Heavenly Father sent Jesus Christ to live for thirty-three years on earth. He experienced life’s many trials. He even walked a road of suffering carrying His own cross for execution. He truly understands my plight. He comprehends my pain. He is able to comfort me. 

Jesus tells me death doesn’t have the final say. He overcame death and gives me the strength to overcome my earthly suffering, whatever it may be. When I trust His presence in my life and allow Him to fill my heart with His peace and love, then I experience His living, loving words. I can be full of joy as I hold out hope, abounding in patience as affliction bombards me, and offering prayers of faith as I zealously serve Him.

We can live out the Lord’s words through Paul in Romans. When hope seems to dissolve, keep hoping because God is working out the details. When afflictions attack, be patient because God is by your side. When it feels as if prayers have fallen on deaf ears, remain faithful because God hears His children’s cries. Serve Him with zeal because He’s devoted to you. 

“The assurance of God’s love, God’s help, and God’s presence is what takes the stress out of living.”  ~Bob Gass  

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