Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Once again I’m thankful to be reading this in multiple languages, since I’m not reading it in the original Greek. In the first of the three sections of this verse the English and Japanese agree unremarkably, and it is an important point. When we have our hope anchored in Christ we can indeed be joyful, regardless of our circumstances. Quite simply, the firmer our grasp on our eternal hope, the happier we will be. It is in the second section that comparing the languages provides insight. There is no disagreement, but we don’t always think of “affliction” in terms of health problems. However in Japanese, the translators used a character combination for that term that is unusual enough that Microsoft wouldn’t give it to me when I entered it phonetically. For the first of the two characters they specifically used the one that means “patient,” as in someone in the hospital. Checking, I see that they used the same combination in John 16:33, (where the NIV simply uses “trouble”) which happens to be one of my favorite verses. In other words, God is our Healer, but when we live in a fallen world, medical problems are no surprise. The last section, where the NIV simply says “faithful,” the Japanese expresses it as, “Work hard at prayer without giving up.” That’s pretty clear, I think! All of these things are pretty hard to do on our own, but God will enable us to do them by His Spirit, if we are yielded to Him.
That second section really struck me just now, not surprisingly considering my wife’s health situation. As I commented to her this morning, it’s strange to be looking forward to surgery, and she agreed completely. Back surgery is never an automatic success, but we trust that God has provided a good hospital and a good surgical team, and He is going to guide them. It would be nice if He would heal her instantaneously, as He has a few times in the past, but that wouldn’t grow her patience. Being a patient should teach you to be patient! In relation to that, I need to be unstinting in prayer, and we both need to keep a firm hold on the hope we have in Christ, so that the devil will not be able to steal our joy, but rather our joy will be a clear witness to all who see us.
Father, thank You for Your plan, even when we can’t “see around the corner,” so to speak. Thank You for Your Word, that You have planted in both of us. Help us indeed live out the truth we know, including this verse, so that we may walk in the freedom of Your Spirit indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!