Maybe it’s because I am hungry, but the more I contemplate this verse, the more it reminds me of an Oreo cookie. Now I realize that doesn’t sound very spiritual, but stay with me. I’ll try to explain.
An Oreo cookie has two sides held in place by the filling; or perhaps it’s the other way around –a filling, held in place by its two sides. Either way you look at it, it’s a time-tested recipe. It works!
The creamy center filling of Romans 12:12 is “patience in affliction.” Afflictions are common to all of us. When a trial or affliction comes my way, there is often little I can do but endure it. Of course I could choose to complain about my situation, lashing out at God and everyone around me, but that would only expose my character, rather than shape it. If instead I endure my afflictions patiently, I will be enriched and grow; I will stick with it and persevere; and God will be glorified. Patience is the sticky, sweet ingredient in afflictions, just as corn syrup is the sticky, sweet ingredient in the filling of the Oreo.
My filling clings on one side to the “faithfulness in prayer” cookie. It is often because I am “stuck” there in the center of my affliction that I find myself repeatedly calling upon God for strength, endurance, and deliverance. Nothing increases the urgency and faithfulness of my prayer life like an affliction or trial. It works the other way, too. Remaining faithful in prayer increases my ability to remain patient in afflictions.
On the opposite side, my filling clings to the cookie of “joyfulness in hope.” Regardless of what the affliction is, it stirs in me a hope for Heaven, where there will be no more afflictions, no pain, no sorrows or trials. This hope produces joy, because no matter what, I know the ultimate end of the story.
I am always thankful for the cookies on each side of the filling when I eat an Oreo cookie. Besides being delicious, they give me something solid to hold onto. What could be more solid in the Christian life than hope and prayer? Without those two essential elements, it would be nearly impossible to patiently endure the trials that are sandwiched in between. Attempting to eat the filling by itself could get quite messy. In the same way, my life would be messy if I had to deal with trials without the benefit of prayer and hope.
There you have it: short, sweet, and stuck together in a neat little package just like a delicious Oreo cookie. Think of the Oreo and remember God's tried and true recipe for success the next time you find yourself facing an affliction or trial: "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
Now, if you will excuse me, it’s time for a snack. I think I’ll start by pouring myself a nice tall glass of milk.
Today I am participating in "Monday Manna," hosted by Joanne Sher at An Open Book. Visit her blog for links to more discussion on Romans 12:12.