Turning the clock a few years back to 2015, we were gathered in my wife’s family’s living room. We were watching a Christmas special on Spanish television when my father-in-law received an urgent call from Mexico. It was his brother telling him that the cartels had attacked the neighborhood where they used to live in the mountains of the regions of Guerrero. The messenger knew it would be a matter of urgency to my father-in-law because they had not heard anything regarding the status of the family that still lived up in those mountains. After receiving the news, the ambiance around the couch completely changed from happiness to wariness. Suddenly, he left the rest of us and went to his room to pray for the safety of the family. When he came back, he said these words to me: “When all hope is lost, we need to kneel down and pray.”
Those words resonated in me and reminded me of the important Bible verse found in Romans 12:12: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” This letter was written to the church in Rome while they were facing multiple challenges. The challenges were coming from the left and right and were draining the hope of those who believed in the gospel message. The writer of the letter wrote these words to remind the church about three things. The first was to be joyful in hope. The second, to have patience in the affliction they were facing in their daily lives. The last part of the exhortation was to be faithful in prayer. They were to have the assurance their prayers were heard, and that God would fulfill his will in their lives.
These are words we can hold close to our hearts in times of tribulation. The times we’ve faced in recent years have been very tough. The tribulations of these years make us wonder if there is any hope for the future. We must, however, remind ourselves of the promises God gave in His word.
Connecting back to the story of my family, as we prayed we were expecting the worst, but suddenly the phone rang. The phone call was to tell us that everyone was safe and that they were out of danger. This was a happy ending to the situation we were facing, but sometimes things happen that are contrary to what we want. As Dalai Lama XIV put it, “There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.’ No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful the experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.” Things may seem increasingly difficult at times, yet we must not lose hope.
Dear Lord, thank You for your Son, Jesus. Through Him, we get to enjoy a great future. But Lord, we go through so many trials that leave us feeling discouraged and hopeless about the future. So many bad things are happening today that are causing us to lose hope in the great future that You have promised. Give us hope and strength that we may be able to stand in faith and continue to walk in Your great plans. Amen.
Written by Luis Filpo courtesy of the West Orange Chaplain Team