Tuesday, something amazing happened – something wonderful and quite unexpected. Doors of communication, that had been locked shut for nearly two and a half years, opened up again between me and my sister. (For background, see this post). Over the past few days, we’ve talked a couple of times on the phone; and I can’t even begin to express how excited I am that we are back in contact with each other. As far as I’m concerned, this is a miracle!
Over the years, I have hoped and prayed with faith that one day we would be reconciled. I have hoped and prayed for our relationship to be restored. I didn’t know when it would happen; and there certainly weren’t any signs of encouragement to grab onto. Even so, I waited expectantly, knowing that this day would eventually come. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Heb 11:1).
I’m not saying that the waiting was easy, because it certainly wasn’t. In fact, there were times when it was not only frustrating, but very discouraging. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” It is heartbreakingly difficult to keep believing for something when all the signs seems contradictory. Even so, that spark of hope that was in me could not – would not – be extinguished. Whenever I felt weary, as if the hope in me had begun to grow dim, I would simply pray about it. The Holy Spirit would breathe on me and my hope would ignite, burning brighter than before.
I am overjoyed that we are finally talking again! It’s an amazing feeling. This got me thinking about God and His feelings. If I’m this happy and this excited about being reunited with my sister, then I can only begin to imagine the elation that God must feel when one of His wayward children returns and is reconciled to Him. I recently happened upon the following scripture. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Rom 12:12). This is an exhortation to believers; but what stood out to me about this verse, is that these are all character traits of Christ. As believers, we have received the Spirit of Christ; and as we continually allow His Spirit to lead us, we become more like Him (see Rom 8:10-11). Another thing that struck me as I read this, was that it seems to be a sort of “recipe” for cultivating patient long-suffering.
- 1. “Be joyful in hope.” – Be happy, cheerful, positive about the things that you have hope for.
- 2. “Be patient in affliction.” – When it seems like you may lose hope, when it hurts, when you’re in pain. . . Submit. This is hard, but don’t fight it. Just relax and wait.
- 3. “Be faithful in prayer.” – Keep communicating with God throughout the whole thing. He will sustain you. He knows exactly what you need. Ask for His help, and trust Him to come through for you. God knows how to fan the flames of hope in you and ignite your heart better than anyone else.
So, no matter what you may be going through, I’d like to encourage you to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.”