constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength],
This verse gives us several separate instructions on what our love for God should produce in us. However, this does not mean that the times described in this verse are necessarily distinct. Imagine for a moment that distress comes your way. Are you merely steadfast and patient during that time, as this verse instructs? Or is that also a time to rejoice in our great hope and be devoted in prayer? The answer is in distinguishing the temporary from the permanent
After his wife tells him to curse God and die because of the attack on his health, Job asks whether we are to accept good from God but not bad [Job 2:9-10]. It is the universal question of whether our circumstances should change our attitude toward God. This verse tells us to constantly rejoice in our hope, which means that we are to practice this during all times, good and bad, high and low. That is because our hope is not temporary. It is the same with our command to be devoted in prayer. God does not desire that we seek him only at some times but at all times, keeping the line of communication open without interruption [1 Thes. 5:17]. The times of distress, however, are temporary. They come and go during the times of hope and prayer but do not replace them. We remain hopeful and prayerful during those times as well
The difficulties of life will discourage us when we forget to be joyful, peaceful, hopeful, loving and appreciative during those times. When times are bad, we still rejoice that God is good, because that never changes. When things seem bleak, we still rejoice in our great hope, because that is secure. Father, remind us daily of the promises You have made and of the facts of your goodness and kindness and holiness, so that we have joy and hope in all things at all times.