“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer” (Romans 12:12)
Godly patience is not just a matter of time, but of endurance as well. To be “patient in tribulation” does not mean to simply let time pass by while waiting for better days to come. To be patient in tribulation means to be able to withstand and endure the present day trial and the pain it generates. It is understanding that there is an indeterminate amount of time (a season) in which we must endure. It is a knowledge that this is of a divine nature.
Why? What is the purpose of this patience, of enduring pain and sufferings for who knows how long? For a Christian, all hardships are a tool in which God uses to refine us, redefine us, to mold and shape us into His image. It is a course correction which draws a straight line between us and Him. Patient in tribulation is meant to be an eye opener to our dependence on God and His love for us. To, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).
The avenue of this discovery of trust and dependence comes through prayer. To be “instant in prayer” is to be steadfast and constant in our dialogue, entreaties and supplications with God. So while we endure, we continuously pray. It can’t be emphasized enough that prayer is two things. First, prayer is our vehicle in which we arrive in God’s presence. Prayer is presence. Secondly, now that we have an audience with the Almighty, what are we going to say? Awe inspiring and somewhat of a dumbfounding thought isn’t it? But prayer is conversing with God. What are you going to say? What is God going to say to you? Remember, this is a dialogue, not a monologue.
The act of Prayer is not an end unto itself. It is not some Holy deed, ritual or religious act to perform to gain favor. Reciting memorized prayers is little more than an oratory exercise. Even the Lord’s Prayer as told by Jesus was meant to be an example in which to follow and not necessarily a prayer to be memorized. Jesus said, “After this manner therefore pray ye” (Matthew 6:9). He did not say memorize and recite this prayer.
Prayer, (the vehicle) puts us in God’s presence (the destination). Prayer comes from our very spirit and not from the pages of liturgical books.
The Greek New Testament word for patient is “Hypomeno”. It is a composite word. “Hypo” meaning under. “Meno” meaning not to depart, to continue, to endure. So we can literally define “patient in tribulation” as continuing without fail or faltering from underneath our trials. What is our support underneath this weight? It is our prayers, our rejoicing and our hope in God! In short, it is our faith!
Is God punishing us for our sins? No. Punishment is vengeance, vindication. It is a penalty. Punishment is however reserved for the unrepentant sinner. Hopefully it serves as a wakeup call to them. But if not, whether in this life or the next, vengeance will be had by the Lord.
God will chastise His children. Chastisement is not punishment. It is what God uses to cultivate the soul and “the evils with which God visits men for their amendment” (Thayer’s).
“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:6-11).
During all trials and tribulations have joy, hope, endure and above all pray continuously! Realize that this is a divine event with God at the helm. Why are we going through what we are going through? We may never know for sure.
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?” (Romans 11:33-34)
But rest assured in this.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:28-31)