In Romans 12:12, the Apostle Paul makes a very simple statement: "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
Why was the Apostle Paul so upbeat even though he experienced things that you and I will never experience in our lifetimes? Why was Paul able to rejoice in hope despite being in situations that seemed hopeless? Paul's hope was founded and based on faith, and faith is founded upon God's own promises. That's why he could say, "Be joyful in hope" even when he was physically suffering. His hope was anchored in refusing to doubt God's oath and God's covenant that He made with His own blood.
When we are faced with times of trouble, trials, and hardships, what does Satan do? He comes to us and says, "Does God really love you? If He loves you, then why are you suffering while your neighbor — who has no regard for God, who doesn't trust in God, who knows nothing about God — is a picture of health and prosperity? Does God really love you?"
At that moment, you have two options. Option No. 1 is to hold a pity party and to get angry with God. But then you have option No. 2. You can say to the devil: "Devil, when you and your followers are frying in hell, I will be in a heavenly body. Devil, when you and your followers are agonizing in the Lake of Fire, I will be hopping from one planet to another without any physical limitation. Devil, when you are crying your eyes out, I will have no tears. Devil, when you and your followers are gnashing your teeth, I am going to be at an eternal party."
So what made Paul rejoice in the midst of the spiritual darkness? It was His redemption. It meant everything to him. The reason we get down and get discouraged is that we have lost sight of the fact that Christ lives in us. But if we keep ourselves fixed on our redemption, then we remember that our hope produces endurance. Hope produces perseverance.
When you know that God has a detailed plan and purpose for your life and you know that God wants to be glorified in your life, you are going to endure the difficulties, and you are going to have hope in hopeless situations. You will, like the Apostle Paul, be joyful in hope.
Excerpted from My Journal, a monthly devotional magazine from Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef.
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