Joseph Bayly was a 20th-century author and publisher who wrote a book entitled, The View From A Hearse. Having suffered the loss of 3 of his 7 children at a young age, he wrote it to help people deal with the pain of death.
In the book, Bayly relates an exchange with a woman whose small son was dying.
“It’s good to know, isn’t it,” I spoke slowly, choosing my words with unusual care, “that even though the medical outlook is hopeless, we can have hope for our children in such a situation. We can be sure that after our child dies, he’ll be completely removed from sickness and suffering and everything like that, and be completely well and happy.”
“If I could only believe that,” the woman replied. “But I don’t. When he dies, I’ll just have to cover him up with dirt and forget I ever had him.”
“It is sad, but more often than not, this woman’s words express the hopeless plight of so many people all around us.”
In a simple but powerful passage, the apostle Paul offers this trilogy of exhortations to help us through trying times. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Rom. 12:12).
(1) Hope produces joy.
The Christian hope is not wishful thinking. Whistling in the dark. Or a Pollyanna approach to life. It’s more than a positive attitude. It is the earnest expectation and confident assurance that God’s promises are true.
Because our hope is anchored in Christ Jesus, based on his resurrection from the dead, we are fortified with cheerful courage. Our hope is founded in our deep trust in the power of God. He is the “God of hope.”
God can sooth hurting hearts. Heal broken lives. Restore ruptured relationships. And restore the joy of our salvation shattered by sin.
(2) We can endure tribulation.
The word “tribulation” means “a pressing, a pressing together or pressure.” There are all kinds of troubles that bring pressure. They may be physical, mental, or emotional. We may experience financial, relational, or spiritual problems and pressure. Regardless, none are pleasant. We wish they would go away. Quickly. But they don’t.
What can a Christian do?
Because of our hope we can as Barclay expressed it,”meet tribulation with triumphant fortitude.” This attitude is characterized in the attitude of one who was suffering and a friend said, “Suffering sure colors life, doesn’t it?” However, the sufferer said, “Yes, but I propose to choose the colors.”
It is said that when the great composer Beethoven, who had suffered many trials in life, began to lose his hearing and descend to complete deafness responded, “I will take life by the throat.”
For the Christian, trouble, trial, and tribulation is faced with an eternal focus that sees beyond present problems. We can bear any burden, endure any affliction, and suffer any sorrow, because we know it’s temporary. There’s hope of a better tomorrow. A better body. And a better home.
(3) Problems should be punctuated by prayer.
While the world scoffs at a spiritual response to tribulation, the Christian knows that God cares. God hears. And God answers prayer.
Prayer, however, is not just a casual, occasional exercise. It is constant. Consistent. And continual. “Be faithful in prayer” is also translated “be devoted to prayer.” It involves dedication. Commitment. And consecration.
Regardless of the tribulations we experience our hope motivates us to be faithful and fervent in prayer.
To our many readers around the world, I know not what trials you may be facing, but let me encourage you to hold on tight to your hope. Keep pressing on through your problems. And stay in constant conversation with your Heavenly Father.
May God bless you and keep you.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman