Written by Rev. Leigh Boelkins Van Kempen –
“When you hope, be joyful. When you suffer, be patient. When you pray, be faithful.” (Romans 12: 12)
I was leading a Bible study yesterday and I asked the residents if anyone had been a model of joy and faith for them in their lives. It was surprising how quickly all of them responded. They didn’t need to think—they just knew and could easily answer the question! This person had made a positive difference in their lives and the experience resonated for years to come.
Then I asked if they had been a model of joy and faith for others. The residents didn’t answer quite as quickly, but as they considered the question, they were able to acknowledge that they had demonstrated these qualities for children and grandchildren, and sometimes for friends. In their many years of life, they had tried to be an example of joy and patience and faith.
Right now, joy, patience and faith are things we all need! The Apostle Paul recognized that, too, as he was writing a letter to the Roman Christians. In a portion of the letter with a heading, “Marks of a True Christian”, Paul told them, “When you hope, be joyful. When you suffer, be patient. When you pray, be faithful.”
I don’t know about you, but joy, patience and faith are not always my first response to things! The residents and I agreed that sometimes discouragement, weariness, and fear have a lot of power and influence in our life. But, as together we considered how to be a model of joy and faith for others, we recognized that the best way to do so was to practice! Like many things in our lives that don’t come naturally, we can practice joy and patience and faith. This season of COVID has the potential to undermine us! It has the potential to dishearten us. But, at the same time, it provides us with the opportunity to model joy and patience and faith—for ourselves, our family, our friends—and anyone else with whom we come in contact. Let’s keep practicing!