By Dr. Dianne Coflin
Co-Pastor, River of Life Church
Wow, 2022 is here! I remember thinking as a little girl that even the year 2000 would be like the Jetsons space age cartoon. I know I am dating myself here, but wow 2022 has arrived!
I think you would agree that the last couple of years have been hard for many. I was so excited for Christmas to come this year that I started decorating a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. Do you know why? Not only is it my favorite time of year, but the Christmas season for me is the celebration of Christ’s birth and all that it represents for mankind. God’s remedy for sin that separated us from Him was His Son’s death, burial, and resurrection that re-united us with Him. We need to celebrate, for God so loved the world. As we now enter a new year, God’s love hasn’t changed. He is mindful of and truly touched with all that we have been through individually and as a nation. Still, I find myself looking to the hope of all the ages the, Lord Jesus.
He is the one that can encourage, help, and love us in this journey of life. I find this word encouraging me for this year. In Romans 12:12 he says we are to “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer.” Why would this be a good word for 2022? He is inspiring us to rejoice, yes rejoice, even when we may not feel like it. This word means to be glad exceedingly, and his word said to rejoice in hope, to anticipate with pleasure and expectation with joyful confidence. You see God has much in store for the man or woman of God that will keep their eyes on him and trust him.
I love the contrast of the two individuals given in Jeremiah 17:5-8. It states “thus says the Lord, cursed with great evil is the strong man who trust in and relies on frail man, making weak human flesh his arm and whose mind and heart turn aside from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub or a person naked and destitute in the desert; and he shall not see when any good comes but shall dwell in the parched places in the wilderness in an uninhabited salt land. But most blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord and whose hope and confidence the Lord is, for he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when the heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. it shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit.”
My, what a comparison. The one whose heart was trusting in the Lord and who placed his hope in Him experienced the same contrary circumstances but was blessed. In fact, he continued to prosper and didn’t even see when trouble came. Unfortunately, the other one who did not look to the Lord for hope, became filled with anxiety, naked, destitute, lonely, and couldn’t even see when the good came.
Imagine being so separated from hope that your heart is blinded, and you can’t even perceive good. No wonder the Lord says to rejoice in hope. When your trust is in the Lord, your hope remains alive.
The apostle Paul said in Romans to be patient in tribulation. The Lord warned us that in this world we would experience tribulation, not caused by him, but in those times, we are to rejoice and be patient. This word tribulation is described as anguish, times of feeling burdened, troubled, being pressed upon and distressed. I am sure all of us can attest to have experienced tribulations especially in the past couple of years. However, though God is much aware of what we go through, he admonishes us to receive his strength and allow his patience within us to help us undergo without yielding to discouragement and hopelessness or giving up.
Did you know there are many who feel that there is no hope? God will infuse us with strength and patient ability to overcome if we look to him. One of the ways he does that is through prayer, which is the final encouragement in Romans 12:12, “be constant in prayer.” Did you know that supernatural strength comes to us when we look to him and pray? In Luke 18:1 it says, “men ought always to pray and not faint.” This implies to me that prayer is powerful and will keep you from giving up and becoming full of anxiety and despair.
We can be rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, and constant in prayer. 2022 can be a great year if we look to Jesus, and keep our hearts stayed on him, for he will command a blessing on those who will.
Dr. Dianne Coflin-co-pastor River of Life Church– 410 East Chapman Road, Lutz, Florida. We would love to have you visit, 10:30am Sundays, 7:00pm Wednesdays. Childcare provided!