As a new Christian, I confess that I felt the following verse, and others like it, were in the Bible for the weak: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Rom. 12:12, NIV). Patient in affliction? My eyes would gloss past this pep talk. I felt it was encouragement for the weak when they are down. The rest of Paul’s illustration on how to live a Christian life I heartily absorbed— tangible things such as loving openly, living peaceably, being hospitable, and clinging to good.
I now read Romans 12 with new eyes. The afflictions of this life have transformed the deepest parts of me. During times of deep affliction, I have seen His love, His face, and have come to know and understand His character. The sorrows and hardships peel away the superficial bits of my life and leave behind God’s deep abiding love.
When I am stripped of all earthly confidence, I am able to be fully joyful in hope. In the mire of affliction, my prayers are truest. Affliction has re-formed my darkest recesses—the crags that could never be touched no matter how hospitable or peaceable my life might be.
Romans 12:12 is not a canned pep talk message for the weak but a promise of a journey. A journey that God will take with us, if we are willing; a journey that will reform the heart and make us stronger than we ever imagined.
—Jean Boonstra is Children’s Ministries director for It Is WrItten Television.