Romans 12:12 teaches us to be “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, [and] faithful in prayer.” The first and third of these are probably easy. It is easy to be filled with joy when you have much hope, which also makes it easy to pray. However, what about being “patient in affliction?” Most people, Christians or not, admit they are not naturally patient. Affliction often brings out impatience and frustration.
Bible teacher Beth Moore describes affliction as more serious than everyday troubles. In her study on 1 and 2 Thessalonians, she calls affliction a persistent situation or burden that leaves you feeling pressed on every side, kind of like a sardine in a full can. Affliction has the potential to sap our faith, but it does not have to.
Being patient in affliction does not come without constant help from God. If you are afflicted, you will know it. You will feel it mentally, spiritually, and often physically. In those situations, your first line of defense must be prayer and meditation. Express your feelings to God, and pray that He will be with you. He knows your heartaches and wants to heal them.
Meditate on verses that bring you extra measures of patience and hope. The Psalms are a good place to start since King David, who wrote many of them, experienced plenty of his own afflictions. You may also try books like Philippians or Ephesians, where Paul talks about the power and grace Jesus promises to believers. Finally, seek godly counsel and encouragement from believing friends.