Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Today I read this verse paraphrased and it really spoke to me.
Base your happiness on your hope in Christ. When trials come endure them patiently, steadfastly maintain the habit of prayer.
When I study God’s word I often have to and usually enjoy looking at words meanings. I am a Math teacher and English was my worst subject so I need all the vocabulary help I can get. The first word is “Base.” Base is defined as….”a point from which something can develop” and “the foundation for something.” So the foundation or starting point for happiness comes from our hope in Christ. Sadly so many in our world, including myself fail to realize how important that is. We try to build our happiness on shifting sand instead of the rock. (Matthew 7:24-27 The Wise and the Foolish Builder)
Sometime we look for our happiness to come based on people or relationships in our lives. The problem is those people can let us down and those relationships can become strained or even broken. When they do what happens to our happiness? It is lost! Maybe we build our happiness on our job or position we hold. I know it sounds crazy but when I graduated high school my goal in life was to teach junior high in Sterling and coach high school football. Seven years ago I obtained that goal. You would probably think I was the happiest I had ever been, right. Wrong! Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed what I was doing very much but it was difficult to be full of happiness with the stress and demands associated with my position.
Happiness has to start with our hope in Christ or we will never be truly happy. Sometimes we let the word “hope” mislead us. We often hope we get some certain gift for Christmas or maybe hope it doesn’t hail on our car! When we look at the true meaning of hope in biblical terms we see something that is not just wished for but is expected. The word used for “hope” is “elpis” which actually means “expectation of what is sure.” My happiness should be based on what I am sure of in Christ. For me that is my salvation and promise of eternity in His presence. Our personal relationship with Jesus Christ is where our happiness should grow from! Everything else in our life should an offshoot of that most important relationship we have. When we approach happiness in that way we can experience it in new, unimaginable, and unshakeable ways!
I say unshakeable because of what we see in the second part of the verse…”When trials come endure them patiently.” I love how this part begins….When. It doesn’t say if, or should they happen to, it says WHEN. Trials will come! We all know that and have experience with them. If the foundation of our happiness isn’t Christ then trials will steal our happiness. However as Christians we are to find Joy in our trials. James tells us in his first chapter….”Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…” Man talk about something that is hard to do! It is difficult to face trials with joy! I mean really? Who does that? Well as Christians we should! We should see trials as God’s strength and conditioning course! The trials we face help to make us stronger and as James says in verse 4 “so that we may be mature and complete.”
When you study patience and perseverance in greek you see they have very similar meanings. Mainly they both have the idea of enduring and remaining steadfast. When we face trials we have to know they are but for a time and with God’s help we can endure them because our hope is in Him. We must remain steadfast in our relationship with him and know that “he’s got this.” Even if the outcome is painful and difficult God is in control and God makes no mistakes! He sees past today and into eternity. Something we don’t have the pleasure of but we have the pleasure of having a personal friendship with He who does.
Lastly we are told to pray, pray and don’t stop praying! As I grow older I finding out more and more how important communication is. Anyone that knows me knows I am pretty quiet and would rather be the fly on the wall than the center of attention. I can stand up in front of people and preach or children and teach but I am not always great at communicating one-on-one or in small groups. However, I think we can all say that we probably have that one close friend we can talk to about anything. Even if we haven’t seen them for a long time you pick up without missing a beat. You just have that openness, trust and love for each other. I know I have some very close and special friends that God has blessed me with and I pray you do to!
My point it this, the most personal and intimate friendship you should have should be with Jesus. That is what he wants with each of us. When something good happens he wants us to share it with him, even though he already knows 😉 When something bad happens he wants us to come to him with it. We need to constantly be talking with our “Best Friend” about what is happening in our life. When we do this we are going to the source of our happiness even as we face trials.
Are you happy today? I pray you are but I pray it isn’t a breakable happiness. I pray you are happy because you have a intimate and personal relationship with Jesus and you are spending time with the one you love and that loves you more than you can imagine!