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Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12 (NIV)

My joy got stolen from me the other day. Ripped right out of my heart before I knew it. One moment it was there, the next it was gone. I thought it was secure, in fact, looking back, I was probably a little too smug about its secure position.

I don’t think I’m alone. You’ve probably had your hope snatched a few times as well. Hope is fragile and valuable. If you have hope, you can conquer most any obstacle before you. If you have hope the old phrase ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ becomes a truism. If you have hope the daily frustrations of life seem to run off your back like water off a duck.

But when the hope snatchers sneak in, all bets are off. The issues of life are the same whether you have hope or not. It’s not if you have hope that counts, but what you have hope in that matters.

Put hope in politics and you’ll be miserable indeed. Put hope in people and relationships, your heart will be crushed as the hope is ripped out. Finances? Healthy living? Social action and volunteerism? All fine and good, but put your hope in them and you are putting your hope in something that’s as full of holes as Swiss cheese. Even religion offers little hope beyond what we can see, touch and feel.

Where then can we get this hope in a world where hopelessness seems encamped on every street corner?

Paul writes, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12) The key to the whole verse, and life, is found in the word ‘hope’. If you put your hope in something that is secure, solid and trusted then patience and faithfulness come easier. If, on the other hand your hope is put in something fallible, affliction will rob you of your joy and frustration will set in.

The key to hope, joy and patience is faithfulness in prayer. Prayer is the lifeline between you and the hope you have in Christ Jesus. Pray when your hope seems gone. Pray when your patience is thin. Pray when you have no desire to pray at all.

The next time your hope is ripped from your heart like mine was, step back and ask yourself where you were putting your hope in the first place. It may be time for a change in perspective.

PRAYER: Father God, forgive me for the times when I’ve put my hope in things rather than in you. Help me focus my prayers and my attitude towards you so that I can remain strong when hope-snatchers attack. Amen.

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