Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Isn’t it fascinating that of the six items identified in the above verse, only the one we generally perceive as negative is a given in our lives? All of the others can be companions that radically change the nature of our journey. The Lord of the Rings offers another helpful picture in this regard. Remember the Council of Elrond in The Fellowship of the Ring, when they are discussing the ring and how to destroy it? In the heaviness of that discussion, Frodo steps forward and says “I will take the ring though I do not know the way.”
For this difficult journey (think affliction), Frodo knows that at least he will have Sam with him. But Elrond informs him that they will not be alone. There is to be a ‘Company of the Ring’, and that company will include those most important to him. Great is Frodo’s joy when he finds this out because he knows and trusts most of these companions. They will make the journey so much better for they will help him find the way and he won’t be alone.
Affliction is our journey. But instead of us having Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, Sam, and the others accompanying us, we have the opportunity to have Joy, Hope, Patience, Faithfulness and Prayer as our companions. We are not alone in the midst of the afflictions we face. These are the ‘companions’ that the Lord wants us to cultivate and have because He knows how incredibly important they are to our journey.
In 1969 I went on a short-term mission trip to Columbia with a group of high school and college students. I wound up losing about 20 pounds on the trip fighting off Montezuma’s revenge. Included in our adventure was a very difficult trek of several miles back through the mountainous jungle to a village. When it was time to return from the village, I was exhausted with no strength, facing miles of muddy mountain trails. (Think of the muddy slides in Romancing the Stone – we did that.) Thank God that on this return trip there were donkey’s to carry our backpacks. I didn’t have to carry that weight – and I had a staff to lean on! We still had to walk out of the jungle but my load was lighter. The Lord enabled me to do it, one step at a time – for miles!! That is an example of how these marvelous companions can impact our journey!
One more thought about the Company of the Ring. I particularly like Frodo’s joyous reaction upon learning that Aragorn (Strider) will be with him! Aragorn is the true king. In addition to the above companions, we too have the true King with us as well. Jesus promised to never leave us or forsake us. These other companions all enable us to better experience the wonder and blessing of His presence.