Hope, Tribulation, & Prayer

Read  Romans 12:12rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.

 Intro:  Out text today is full of meaningful words that occur often in scripture: Rejoice, Hope, Patient, Tribulation, Steadfast, Prayer – There is a lesson in each of these words, and much of what we will notice comes from the meaning of these words as they are applied to our lives.

  • In the larger context of Romans 12 these 3 commands are vital ingredients to a spiritual life. As we learn to rejoice, be patient and continually pray, we will grow spiritually. What the apostle is calling for are not sporadic or occasional activities and attitudes. He is urging the Christian to adopt an unnatural and spiritual approach that comes through a renewed mind that is not conformed to the world around it (v. 2)
  • Although these 3 phrases of vs. 12 are part of a series of admonitions given in vs. 11, 12 & 13 they are also are interrelated. Taken together there is described here
  • o a circumstance: tribulation
  • o The needed responses: patience & prayer
  • o the expected result: joy & hope
  • o One literal translation renders this verse as “In hope, rejoicing; in tribulation, enduring; in prayer, persevering’

With that in mind we will study each phrase independently as they appear:

 I.   Rejoicing in Hope:  When Paul described the Gentile world in Ephesians 2 he said they were   “separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.” ( Eph 2:12). Without God, the world has no hope. Separate from Christ, the world has no hope. 

A. Jesus is our only hope: There a several passages that tell us that the basis for our hope is Christ.

  • 1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
  •  1 Peter 1:20-21 – He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
  • In the very first verse of 1 Timothy Paul refers to Christ as “our hope“.  
  • Paul also says that if we do not have hope in Christ that reaches beyond the grave we are of all men most pitiable.(1 Cor. 15:19)

B.   Our hope in Christ brings joy.(rejoicing in our hope) Someone has said that for the Christian the best is always yet to come. That is a powerfully comforting thought. We can reach an age where we recognize that from the physical perspective the best is already past. Many people lose the joy of living because their view of the future is dismal. But for the Christian the future is always better than whatever we face today.

1.  Read on in 1 Peter 16 In this (hope) you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. We can “greatly rejoice” in our problems because we know that they are just for a “little while“.

2.  Near the end of his life the apostle Paul was in prison in Rome. He wrote the letter to the Philippians from an environment of tribulation, but was able to be joyful because he had hope.

  • Phil 1:19-21 – 19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If we find it difficult to find joy in life, we need to review your hope in Christ. Jesus Himself promised a peace from the tribulations of life that the world could not provide. John 16:33- 3 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Our hope transcends our trouble because the best is yet to come: Rom 8:18 – For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

 II.  Patient in Tribulation:  The next phrase brings us back to the present and tells us how we must respond to the troubles we face. We must be patient.

A. “Patience” is listed as an element of the fruit of the Spirit – a characteristic that comes from God alone. God is patient; therefore we have hope, and the ability to be patient as well.

1. The word here is hupomenontes – which means to remain or persevere. Whereas it synonym makrothumia (listed in Gal. 5:22) connotes a patience with difficult people, this word denotes a patience with difficult circumstances.

B. Looking to Jesus – A long range view of our hope in Christ gives us the ability to endure now.  Paradoxically it is Jesus who is also our example to follow in being patient through tribulation.  Hebrews 12:1-3 1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.

1.  Why did Jesus endure the cross? How could He see it through to the end?  “for the joy that was set before Him”   What was this joy? Some have suggested that it was the prospect of being exalted to the right hand of God. He certainly desired His exaltation to His previous glory (John 17). But it may be better to see this as the joy being pleasing to the Father and finishing His mission. Burton Coffman says… The joy that was set before him was the joy of reversing, at last, the tragic defeat of humanity in the Paradise of Eden; the joy of knowing that Satan’s purpose of destroying man was foiled; the joy of “bringing many sons unto glory” (Heb 2:10); the joy of the saved entering heaven “with songs of everlasting joy upon their heads” (Isa 35:10); the joy of the herald angels’ “tidings of great joy to all people” (Luke 2:10); and such marvelous joy that, in truth, no vocabulary may describe it, no rhetoric suggest it, or finite mind fully conceive of it. Placed in the balances of consideration, and weighed against the epic sufferings our Lord passed through, that unspeakable joy overwhelmingly prevailed.  (from Coffman’s Bible Commentary)  

2.  Considering such endurance for our sake we cannot grow weary or discouraged. We must persevere in tribulations. But how can we endure to the end? Where can we find the strength?

 III. Continuing Steadfastly in Prayer:  The phrase “continue steadfastly” comes from an original word that means to be diligent or earnest towards a goal. Sometimes it is translated as “being devoted to” or to be “constant in”.

A. It is enlightening to notice how many times this attribute is connected with prayer.

   Before the coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts 1 the disciples were together in the upper room – Acts 1:14 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication,* with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

  • Acts 2:42 – Later after the church began Luke tells us these early Christians “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (
  • In Acts 6 Peter asked the church to appoint men to see to the care of the widows because the apostles were going to “give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:4)
  • Later when Peter was arrested and the young church was seemed powerless before Herod Luke tells us “constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.” (Acts 12:5)
  • Paul encouraged the Christians to “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;” (Colossians 4:2) and to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17)

B.  Prayer is not a sporadic, stop-gap measure. It is to be as natural and constant as breathing to the Christian. Doubtless one of the reasons the Lord allows His children to go through tribulation is to drive them to Himself. Those who develop the strength to persevere in trials and  afflictions will pray more than occasionally. They will continue steadfastly in prayer.

C.  Consider again the interrelationship between these 3 phrases. ‘In hope, rejoicing; in tribulation, enduring; in prayer, persevering’  Each of these exercises helps the other.

  • Jamieson says… “If our “hope” of glory is so assured that it is a rejoicing hope, we shall find the spirit of ‘endurance in tribulation’ natural and easy; but since it is “prayer” which strengthens the faith that begets hope, and lifts it up into an assured and joyful expectancy, and since our patience in tribulation is fed by this, it will be seen that all depends on our ‘perseverance in prayer. (from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary) If we fail to pray we cannot expect to be joyful, hopeful or successful in enduring to the end.

  Conclusion: All three of these challenging phrases point to Christ. He is the source of our hope, the reason for our joy, the strength in our tribulations, the model for our patience, and the audience of our prayers.   

  • Notice how Paul brings this out in Rom 5:1-4Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have* peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
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