Hoping, enduring, praying
Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer. Romans 12:12
These three things must go together. We cannot be patient in tribulation if we are not rejoicing in hope and being constant in prayer. On other hand, those who are rejoicing in the hope they have in Christ will pull through those times when they are pressed down by the world and will not stop praying and trusting in the Lord. These three exhortations are all in some way or another exhortations to remain steadfast in trial and are the equipment the Christian needs to do so.
“Serving the Lord” in the previous verse reminds us of the kingdom of God and the fact that the kingdom has yet to come in its fullness. For the believer, the full measure of the blessing of God is yet to be experienced, and it is this which is the Christian’s hope. And this begets, where it is truly believed, joy in the present. And this in turn gives the believer perseverance in trial. The word tribulation here carries the connotation of being pressed down by something. But when we are rejoicing in hope, this hope begets endurance. (And on the other hand, endurance also begets hope, Rom. 5:3-5.) Perseverance is the mark of the saint.
Suffusing everything is the spirit of prayer. Those who have this hope pray. Why do we not pray? Perhaps it is because we are so self-confident. But the nature of these commands should convince us of the utter folly of such an attitude. Or is it not almost always because we just do not believe that our prayers make any real difference? But do the Scriptures not emphasize just the opposite? (cf. Lk. 18:1-8). In fact, we are told over and over in the Bible that God hears the prayers of his people (e.g. Exod. 8:13). Let us therefore approach the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:16).