Hardship can press us down. I remember when the COVID-19 first broke out and first cases appeared in our City. I felt worry, fear, and anxiety creeping in. The uncertainty of life itself became very palpable. Mortality became, not just a sure idea, but a real thing! It felt like COVID-19 pressed me —- my life, my feelings, and my thoughts —- into a small corner. The world seems to have grown smaller. I felt confined not only physically but also emotionally. Whenever we experience hardship, we always feel that force of seemingly being cornered and pressed like we are powerless to move. As believers of Christ, how do we approach or treat hardships in life? The answer is this; “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” – Romans 12:12.
Rejoice in hope. I was reading the blog by Sue Love Let’s Be Reasonable, and she explained there that the word “rejoice” literally means to prefer or to choose. So, as God’s children, we choose to hope. In times of hardship and distress, we should choose to hope. Hope in the Bible refers to an expectation and trust that something beneficial will happen because our God is worthy of trust. So King David expressed this hope in God, “O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.” – Psalm 25:2-3. We rejoice in this same hope that what God promises in His Word are all true and it will all come to pass! As believers, in times of hardship, we look to this hope and we are confident that we will not be put to shame.
Be patient in tribulation. Tribulation means great distress or suffering. When we experience great suffering, it is easy to be discouraged and lose hope. But His Word commands us to be patient in tribulation. This is the picture of patience as painted by the Bible. “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” – James 5:7-8. We should exercise patience like the farmer who waits for months for his crops to grow and who waits for it to yield fruits and to be harvested. This is the kind of patience that we need to do when we are under trial, hardship, or any kind of suffering. We patiently wait for the hand of the Lord to bring His purpose and will to fruition in our life. We never get disappointed nor be in the losing side when we choose to wait for God in difficult times. “but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31.
Be constant in prayer. Sometimes it is difficult to pray when we are suffering. We do not feel that God is with us. We do not know where God is in the time of trouble. We struggle to see His mighty hand working in the midst of our suffering. But we are asked to “be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12). Constancy means there is a continuous action without pauses. Regardless of what we feel in times of hardship or distress, we should not stop from praying. In fact, we have more reason to pray. The more we do not feel like praying and the more we feel the difficulty to pray, the more we should get down on our knees in prayer. We should pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). In our difficulty, we should not worry. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” – Romans 8:26-27.