4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews[b] on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed 9 and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing the praises of your name.”[c]
10 Again, it says,
“Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”[d]
11 And again,
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him.”[e]
12 And again, Isaiah says,
“The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.”[f]
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Endurance. Today that isn’t a very popular word in the western world. It’s been said that many people now expect to have it all – a good job, a mortgage and material possessions with sufficient leisure time to enjoy them.
However, these high expectations take their toll on our mental health when life doesn’t quite live up to them. We’ve all said, “Why me?” or “All I want is an easy life” during hard times but the Bible is full of people who endured the most horrendous lives – Job, Hannah, Hosea – and the list goes on. If you feel like you are struggling, you are in excellent company! Fortunately, God not only enables us to endure but he offers us encouragement as we suffer.
I’m not sure I’ve reached the point where I consider it “pure joy” when I face trials, as it tells us in James but I do know that the examples of those who have walked with God and those who continue to do so, encourage me on my own personal journey and offer me real hope. I may not be happy with all the circumstances of my life, but I can experience joy and peace as I trust God fully with all the situations I face, knowing that he wants what is best for me.
So let’s rejoice this Christmas. Let’s pray that we may overflow with hope in a broken world.