Editor's note: Join disciples around the world in January as we devote ourselves to prayer and action. Each day, Disciples Today will publish a devotional from 31 Days of Prayer by Daniel Berk. Follow along on Facebook with your comments and prayer requests. We look forward to an amazing year as we seek God together!
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” – Romans12:12 (NIV)
The more we are intentionally grateful to God for the things we receive in this life from him and through him, and for the incredible privilege it is to serve him with our own uniquely created hearts and minds, thoughts and experiences, the easier it becomes to rejoice and be glad.
Nonetheless, the world faces struggles and hardships right now, some beyond others, and even others putting Christians — yes, our brothers and sisters — in danger and in threat of death. For those of you reading this who live in a country that allows the religious freedom to be a Christian without fear of bodily harm or legal consequence, be thankful. For those who live in an area that being a Christian is strictly prohibited, praise God that he considers you worthy of suffering for his name.
Right now, I live in Spain, and today as I write this, November 13, 2016, I am in Barcelona. As I walked alongside the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, the outskirts of the city, a man asked me where I was from. After telling him I was from the United States, he immediately said: "Trump!" A lot of people think a lot of things about him – the good, bad, and ugly. Believe it or not, I've had similar encounters with dozens of people in the last few days, where many people have told me many opinions.
To be joyful in hope means remaining hopeful even when the temptation to fear or become anxious seems too much to bear. To be patient in affliction means allowing the Holy Spirit who lives inside of you to breed a supernatural steadfastness that transcends understanding. To be faithful in prayer means to not lose heart when you feel all hope is lost. Though we live in this world, we cannot allow the things of this world to so drastically affect our emotions, our minds, or our righteousness. For the Christian who has decided to follow Jesus, allowing any form of politics to breed any ounce of sin inside your heart simply will not do. Hope and have faith instead of becoming so consumed.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Pray through the reasons you have to be thankful for the freedoms you have in Christ. Ask God to reveal to you the size of his greatness, and its comparison with the minute speck of history that is our entire lives. Pray that his greatness and might will seem incomparable to everything else in existence.