Rev. Anita Hahn, Superintendent of Northern Waters District, reflects on her life verse and the value of joy, patience and prayer. She encourages others to have a life verse, too.
Superintendent, Northern Waters District
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour.11Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. ~Romans 12:9-13 NRSV
In other words, Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles and pray at all times. That is Romans 12:12 from the ‘80s version of the popular Bible translation known as, “The Good News Bible.” When I was in college, these words became my life verse. They became the words that give me daily strength and courage.
What are the words or Words of scripture that center your life? When others challenge you or circumstances seek to pull you up by the roots, what is your focal point? Are there Words of scripture to which you cling?
Pray at all times.
I grew up in Christian home and talking to God was normal for me — always. Then one day I thought that was a bit nut-so, so I trained myself not to continuously talk to God. I heard about the need for morning prayer, praying before bed, and blessings before meals. Then I began hearing other people, as crazy as me, who were choosing to pray, always. I worked on relearning the old habit. I do not know what your prayer life looks like, but God wants to hear from you! God wants to be your very best friend, personal guide, and most devote encourager. For God to be a part of your life, you must communicate with God … often. Pray at all times. Those may seem like tough words, but they are life giving!
Be patient in your troubles.
It is a guarantee. In this life there will be trials. My troubles have been very minor. When I think of the living conditions of persons around the globe — governments that just aren’t healthy, natural disasters that happen, and the news, “there was one more school shooting” — my heart grieves for another’s trials. Part of our collective suffering right now in the United Methodist Church involves our walking into disagreements about how we interpret scripture.
In the face of trials, patience to me looks like remembering whose I am (GOD’S), and who you are (GOD’S, too). When suffering comes, I find patience in the Word of God that is written on my heart.
When pain is prolonged, I find patience in long walks/conversations with God. Patience is realized when I think about how my actions will affect another; when I act out of choice rather than reacting to fears. Patience is forgiving myself and others quickly. Patience is acting in ways that ease another’s suffering.
Let your hope keep you joyful.
The heart bathed in prayer — strong in the Lord, walking through adversity — is joyful. Not joyful because everything is “fine,” but because God is stable!
These words offer us not only guidance, but hope. When all else fails, there is a God who is, and loves, and will be. As a college student, I wanted to be able to say, “I am great!” because I became weary of people saying, “I am fine,” and often not really meaning it. I also knew that I didn’t want to lie, so it invited myself to name from where my JOY comes, day after day after day. May we be “great!” with our hope grounded in the JOY of the Lord.
One more verse …
If I could memorize one more verse of this text, I would add Romans 12:13: “Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.”
These words continue to remind me that we need to care for each other. We need to care for the one we do not yet know. God has invited us to be stewards of creation, just as the United Methodist Church invites us to be stewards of our congregations. We own nothing, for all that we have is managed by our Creator for us to use together — friends and strangers — alike.
Let your heart keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles and pray at all times. ~Romans 12:12
May you know the grace and love of God, this day and always!