The Encouragement of the Word
Bible Reading: Romans 15:1-7
Romans 15:4, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Pastor Andrew Brunson and his wife, Norine, had served as missionaries in Turkey for 23 years before he was detained in 2016. It took months in jail before Andrew even learned the reason for his imprisonment. He experienced times of incredible loneliness and despair, as he later recounted: “There was nothing to do, no reading, no writing, nobody to talk to. On its own, this would have been enough to drive me mad. But with the added weight of fear, it was overwhelming. Piece by piece, I could feel myself falling apart. In the moments I was able to think clearly, I forced myself to focus on a single question: What am I going to do to stop myself from going crazy?”
One day Nadine smuggled into the jail a little prayer booklet inside of a dinner some friends had prepared. The verses in that book made a world of difference: “Instantly I realized this book was more precious than gold to me. It was life. Finally, I had some verses from the Bible I could read, some prayers that I could say when my own words were too fogged up with fear. I now had something that I could build my day around, and I started spending hours and hours each afternoon and evening pacing from the door to the window and back, reciting the verses and letting the book inspire my prayers.”
Pastor Brunson was falsely charged with being a part of a terrorist group and ultimately spent two years in prison before his release. Back home in America, he spoke of how the book of 2nd Timothy helped to get him through the hard times, saying, “I read 2 Timothy where Paul talks about suffering and finishing the race well. This became my prayer. I want to be faithful and endure and finish well.”
No matter where we are, or what we are going through, the Word of God can encourage us. God is “the God of endurance and encouragement” (Romans 15:5) and He speaks to us through His word. How does the Word do that? As in the case of Jeremiah the prophet, it can work to shift our focus away from ourselves to the One who knows and cares (Lamentations 3:16-24)!
It is as Corrie Ten Boom once said, ““If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God, you’ll be at rest.” Looking at God involves closely examining the Scriptures. There we will find encouragement in the truth of who God is—in His amazing compassion, omnipotent ability, and incomparable wisdom. The Scriptures work to encourage us, as they unveil to us the glory of our Savior—in who He is, His presence with us, His loving sacrifice, His resurrection, His promises, His work in us, His intercession for us, His coming again for us, His example to us and countless other ways. We are encouraged as we read of how God has worked on behalf of those who have gone before us (Hebrews chapter 11, for example). The sure promises of God’s Word encourage our hearts. No one knows your heart like God. He loves you and is able to speak to your need through His living word according to the need of the moment. If you’ve need of encouragement, look in the book.
The God of encouragement has an encouraging word for you. You’ll find it in His book.Anonymous
TURN YOUR EYES UPON JESUS
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Thro’ death into life everlasting,
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion–
For more than conqu’rors we are!
His Word shall not fail you–He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!