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Worshiping on the Outskirts

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

(Romans 12:12 ESV)

The center here stands out in these times: “be patient in tribulation” and informs the rest. The word “patience” is specifically a ‘bearing up under circumstances’ as opposed to ‘bearing up under people’.  The word “tribulation” means ‘to crush, press, compress, squeeze’ and is related to a word that speaks of distress, narrowness of room or confined space (NT Word Study Dictionary).  We are certainly in a time that may be termed “tribulation” and it calls certainly for “patience.” 

It seems the outside items inform the center of this verse. “Rejoice in hope” refers to Christ’s return and our ultimate redemption (MacArthur Study Bible). The construction of this phrase speaks specifically to “that in or over which one rejoices” (NT Word Study Dictionary), meaning  that “hope” is the cause of one’s joy. 

The word “prayer” can speak of ‘a place of prayer’ which was usually located on the outskirts of towns where Jews were unable to have a synagogue, usually near a river or seaside for convenience (NT Word Study Dictionary). The word “constant” refer to staying close to someone and is metamorphic here of steadfastness or faithfulness “in the outgoings of the Christian life, especially in prayer” (NT Word Study Dictionary).

Bringing it together…

We are certainly in a time that demands patience in the circumstances. From Romans 12:12 we may learn that our view of the future glory of the Lord filling the earth and our regular resorting to the house of God in a figurative sense at this time are instrumental to this patience demanded. As we look at God’s promises (Psalm 110) and regularly connect with each other in worship through unusual means at this time (on the outskirts if you will), we can be using these instruments to promote the patience in tribulation that is called for here. That is my take on it, my meditation this morning over the text. I find it useful and hope you will carry with you Romans 12:12 and think over it as well.