Living with Zeal and Hope

Kristyn Berry, Volunteer Writer, Crystal Lake | February 2, 2024

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 
Romans 12:11-12

A few years ago on a gloomy Sunday morning, I arrived at Willow Creek in Crystal Lake hoping for the Sunday sermon to work its usual magic by filling my soul and setting me on the right path for the week ahead. We bought our coffees from the café, made our way to the auditorium, and settled into our seats as the worship music began filling the auditorium. When it came time for the sermon, we were introduced to our guest speaker, Bob Goff. This was the first time I had heard of, or experienced, the pure joy that is Bob Goff, author of Everybody Always, Love Does, and Dream Big

Seeing Bob speak that day was a life-changing experience. He was  an energetic, enthusiastic, whimsical storyteller, hilariously and jovially telling us about how he contracted Malaria on a recent trip to Africa and almost died. “It was great!” He exclaimed. “I lost THIRTY pounds! Easiest diet I have ever been on!” I remember exchanging glances with my sister—did this guy just find a blessing in contracting Malaria?! He really takes being patient in affliction to the next level! 

In Romans 12:11-12, Paul provides a powerful exhortation for Christians on how to live out their faith in a dynamic and meaningful way, much like Bob Goff’s example.  Paul encourages us to keep an unwavering passion for our faith. In a world filled with distractions and challenges, it is easy to lose our fervor for God. However, this verse reminds us to keep the fire of our spiritual enthusiasm burning. A posture of serving the Lord not only blesses others, but also strengthens our connection with Him.

Joy is a powerful aspect of the Christian experience. Our hope in Christ is the foundation of our joy. Patience—especially through life’s trials—is a virtue that grows our character and deepens our dependence on God. Bob Goff showed me that day, that regardless of our circumstances, it is possible to find joy in the hope we have through Jesus. As we meditate on this passage, let’s pray that we too can live with zeal, hope, patience, and faithfulness in our journey. May our lives be a testimony to the transformative power of God’s love and grace.

Next Steps

Consider the areas in your life where you are facing affliction. How can you practice patience and trust God’s timing in those situations? 

Take a moment to reflect on your zeal for God. Are there areas in your life where you can renew your passion for Him? What are the things that dampen your zeal, and could cause you to become lukewarm in your faith?

Consider the ways you are currently serving God. Is there room for growth or deeper commitment?