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Hope, Patience and Prayer

Fr. Luke A. Veronis

“Rejoice in hope; be patient in tribulation; continue steadfast in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

This advice from St. Paul to the Christians in Rome during some very challenging times in the first century offers a great model for our own Christian life of today. Never give up! Persevere and struggle on! Trust in God and know that He is with you. And every day talk to Him in prayer!

Let’s take a closer look at these three disciplines we are called to cultivate in our lives – hope; patience; prayer.

First, followers of Jesus Christ are always people of hope. No matter what the grim circumstances around us, no matter how dark the world appears, no matter how it may seem that evil prevails, we are people of HOPE. And we will daily “rejoice in the hope” that God instills in us.

Why do we have hope? Because we know that God is with us; that God knows our situation; that God is not a distant God who stays absent from our world, but He is the One who entered this world precisely to experience our human existence and to conquer the evil and darkness and sin that surrounds us. He is the God who came to live among us, and to show us the path of peace, the path that leads back to Him. So we always have hope, no matter what the circumstance and no matter how the world around us may look.

Don’t get discouraged by the politics of the day! Don’t get overwhelmed by the illnesses we hear about every day! Don’t despair about the violence and uncertainty in our world! These may all present great challenges, and the future may seem grim, but we have a God that is greater than any challenge and danger we face, and thus, we live in hope. “If God is with us,” the Apostle Paul proclaims, “then who can be against us!”

We always have reason to HOPE; as followers of Jesus Christ, we ARE people of HOPE, and we share our contagious, joyous HOPE with all those around us!

“Rejoice in hope; be patient in tribulation; continue steadfast in prayer.”

Along with hope, followers of Jesus Christ are called to always persevere with patience in the midst of any and every tribulation we may face. Whatever challenges life may bring, whatever struggles we may face, whatever sudden tragedies may overwhelm us, we stay steadfast and patient in the midst of them.

Remember, God never promises that we will face no tragedies or struggles or great tribulation in our lives. NO. Instead, He promises us something better – that in the midst of everything life brings, “I will be with you always.” He promised that in the midst of our great struggle, He will give us His lasting and eternal peace. He is with us and He promised, “In Me, you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but do not be afraid, for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Thus, we patiently wait. As we read church history, and learn about the lives of countless saints, we quickly realize that the saints, the most faithful followers of Jesus, did not have easy lives. In fact, quite the opposite; many suffered as martyrs and died at young ages. Yet they never despaired and they never gave up. Their patience helped them stay faithful until the end. Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit of God fills us with patience.

Our patience comes from the fact that we know God is ultimately in control of world history. Nothing can happen outside of His will. And we know that the safest place to be is in the will of God. Therefore, we patiently wait. Saint James tells us to “Count it all joy when you face various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” Patience is waiting on the Lord, waiting for God and knowing that He will have the final word. The final victory is ultimately His, so we wait patiently, trusting in Him!

“Rejoice in hope; be patient in tribulation; continue steadfast in prayer.”

Of course, we don’t patiently wait without doing anything. In our patience, we “continue steadfast in prayer.” To pray means to constantly communicate with God and to keep our connection with Him alive. Prayer is our lifeline to the source of ultimate living. In Christ is our hope, our faith, our life and very being. He is the source of all that is good and pure and holy and right and eternal. As we stay connected to Him, we cannot but stay hopeful, positive, and filled with joy and light.

To pray in a disciplined manner, however, doesn’t come easy. There are so many distractions all around us, clamoring for our attention and time. We wake up and immediately turn to our phones and start filling our minds with the news of the day. We go throughout the day busy, running from one thing to another. We fill every moment of the day with our self-centered pursuits, and push God to the side, often forgetting about Him for the entire day. And then by the end of the day, we are exhausted and fall right into bed without turning to Him and ending the day in dialogue with our Lord. It isn’t easy to develop a serious discipline of prayer, and to stay in communion with God. Yet, that is our call. That is our lifeline to all that is truly good. When we stay steadfast in prayer, we will be filled with hope and we will discover patience.

“Rejoice in hope; be patient in tribulation; continue steadfast in prayer.”

Here is the model that the Apostle Paul offers to all of us today. Let each of us strive to live by it – with HOPE, PATIENCE and PRAYER, each and every day!