Prologue: Isn’t it marvelous how the Lord has His ways of working with us? We’re just children who don’t always get the lesson right away. But as children, each of is us different and the Lord knows that. He doesn’t work with me the way He might with you. I like that. It’s not cookie-cutter style.
One recent Sunday, our assistant pastor brought a LiveStream message during the Sunday school hour as our state of Florida is still in what we might call “lockdown” due to the Coronavirus. We’re not as locked down as other places, but still, we don’t like it and chafe against it. The very next day my reading brought me this rich lesson which was on the same topic. Coincidence I’m sure, but I’ll give God the glory for orchestrating it! As I continue to struggle with my health, a tribulation of sorts; as the Covid-19 lockdown drags on bringing more frustration; the Lord knew I had need of … patience! So the lesson was doubled that I might slow down, consider it, and really get it!
. . . patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer . . .
The whole chapter of Romans 12 is primarily about spiritual gifts, as well as the use and development of those gifts.
This morning, I am beginning to see the beauty of this remarkable pairing in verse 12 — the putting together of tribulation and prayer. I as a believer am exhorted to be patient in that tribulation — that’s IN the tribulation! Right, smack in the middle of it, I’m instructed to be patient. As I meditate on this incredible exhortation, my heart cries out, “How Lord? How can I be patient IN tribulation?” The Gentle Voice answers as I look back through the text, “By continuing instant in prayer.”
As I further meditate I see some things I hadn’t seen before. I don’t believe that this continuance of instant prayer is intended as constant, unending prayer for me in my own little tribulations, troubles, and trials. No! That would only focus my attention continually on me, something which I do not need to encourage. But by being “kindly affectioned one to another” (verse 10), my continual instant prayer is to be for others. I am to prefer another’s problems over myself and my situation, with honor and brotherly love. And I am to not be slothful in this business of prayer, but fervent in spirit (verse 11), distributing this prayer to the saints as they have any necessity (verse 13).
As I considered these truths, I was gently reminded that this chapter is about spiritual gifts given by God. “Tribulation? A spiritual gift? How, Lord?” By seeing the rich blessings that physical tribulation can bring if I allow it to do the spiritual work of God in my heart. Yes, tribulation most certainly is a gift from God. Then, when given back to Him – look! I begin to see all the other gifts that are developing and growing! All by taking my eyes off my own problems, and being a help to others.
II Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
Post Script: For Bro. David Brown’s message on Biblical Patience, go to this YouTube link. It was so helpful to me and I’m sure it can be a blessing to you as well. Probably the virtue of patience is something of which we all could use a little more.