As a young child I often heard this verse, Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12). I couldn’t imagine to do these things with the kind of “master level” I thought was required of me. It was a lot like the verse, Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). There was just no way to be happy and thankful all the time, or was there?
Scripture is clear that choosing a relationship with Jesus isn’t tea and crumpets. Paul shares the experiences he has had as a follower (see 2 Corinthians 11:16-33). This is not a journey for those who do not want to get their feet wet, or lose their shoes all together. Yet, at the end of the passage what does Paul say, “Woe is me, it’s just too hard.” NO. He says, If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying (v. 30-31). Paul knows that it’s all about Jesus.
It is our relationship with Jesus that brings us Joy. It comes from knowing we are loved, we are forgiven. We are made new (2 Corinthians 5:17). We have joy for the way our relationship with Jesus colors all of the ways we interact with people and situations.
Patience is another part of our walk with Jesus that is never present to the fullest extent without close relationship with Him. We don’t understand the “long-suffering” that comes from waiting. The wait for loved ones to accept Christ, for forgiveness within a relationship, the waiting to see our family and friends who have passed away. All of this is grown in patience that needs more than our willing it to happen. It’s grown out of Heaven and the love and mercy that God offers to us while we wait for His perfect timing.
As to Faith, this is another part of our Christianity that cannot be willed or forced into existence. It is our faith that allows us to accept Jesus’ offer of salvation and redemption. It’s faith that grows as we see that God’s plans for us are not what we had in mind. They are better. Our faith in knowing God’s love for us will far outweigh the struggles we face. It is not our abilities to force trust to come through, but that God is God that allows our faith to grow and mature. If we allow it.
O Best Beloved, it is only through Jesus that we will ever experience the Master Level of the journey we are on. Not us, not the pastor at the front of our church, the music on the radio, or the communities we serve. It is Jesus. His ever present relationship with us that will grow our joy, our patience, and our faith.