The Encouragement of the Scriptures

A lot of the time, I am relatively strong. I persevere. I encourage others. I like to think of myself as Eowyn in Lord of the Rings, or Phoebe in Romans, or Ruth. But every few weeks (at least I hope it’s only that often), I get seriously discouraged. Stay in the bed, can’t stop crying discouraged. It’s not a generic depression requiring treatment, though I imagine it could become that. It’s always tied (and has been my whole life) to a consistent theme – simply that this world is not right. It is not as it should be. Relationships aren’t as they should be. Work isn’t as it should be. Health isn’t as it should be. The Church isn’t as it should be. And most sobering of all, *I* am not as I should be. God does not have to talk me into praying that His kingdom would come. I know good and well that it is only He and His rule that will set everything right in this world. And I long for it. I pray for it. I seek it.

On a good day, I know His kingdom is at hand, and I have hope that He is perfecting His Body to be revealed in all her glory very soon. But not every day is a good day. Some days, the marathon that is the Christian life overwhelms me. Every day, I feel like I’m trudging upstream against a raging current. But on those days, it feels like weights have been attached to my ankles. And then my wrists. And then my back. My ability to trudge upstream against the current slips. I feel myself moving slower. And then I come to a dead stop, the weight of the current threatening to overtake me. In those moments, I cry out, “God, please move!” I just want God to do SOMETHING. I want Him to move in some way that I can document. To do something for me that I can’t mistake that reminds me that He’s there and He has a plan. Pay a bill through unexpected means. Have someone call me with a heart for Christ that I thought was dead to Him. I want reconciliation in unresolved conflicts. Healing where there has been long-term illness. Hearts passionate for Him that once were stone cold.

And He does none of it for me.

He doesn’t resolve the unresolved conflict. He doesn’t bring healing to the debilitating illness. Stone cold hearts remain stone cold. At least it seems that way to me. To me, in that moment, there seems a complete lack of movement on His part. I cry out again—“please God, won’t you MOVE?! I need ENCOURAGEMENT.” Again, silence.

Finally, after hours of this, I stumble over to the Word. I am reading through Romans, and there it is in tonight’s reading.

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.

I have long since learned not to go looking through Scripture for a verse to make me feel better. Instead, I read straight through books of the Bible. I have found that God is much better at finding me in Scripture than I am of finding Him. When God speaks to me in unexpected places in His Word, it increases my faith in ways that a sudden healing from illness or bill paid out of nowhere cannot do. He says it Himself again and again—His Word is His sword. It tenderizes hearts and builds them back up again. It is His self-revelation to us, and it contains EVERYTHING that pertains to life and godliness. And as I read Romans 15, sure enough, those words written in the former days for my instruction gave me endurance and encouragement and HOPE.

The truth is that God IS healing the sick. He is resolving conflicts. He is paying bills through unexpected means. He is turning stone cold hearts into living things passionate for Him. But that’s not where I’ll find my source for enduring. I certainly can get comfort from seeing such things, but I get long-term encouragement and hope from the Scriptures. May I never forsake them or underestimate them in those moments of discouragement.

11 Responses to The Encouragement of the Scriptures

  1. Elizabeth Mahlou September 14, 2010 at 3:48 am #

    This is a really good post! I hope you will have a limited number of days of feeling depressed and a far greater number of days of feeling pure joy!

  2. Anonymous September 14, 2010 at 1:49 pm #

    At some point you may be diagnosed with:
    dysthymia (dis·thīˑ·mē·),
    n a chronic form of a depressive disorder, symptoms of which are not as severe as other types of depressive disorders. An individual must present with feelings of depression on a daily basis for a period of at least two years to be diagnosed with this condition. At least three of the following symptoms must also be indicated over the same period of time: fatigue, low self-esteem, pessimistic attitude, a noninterest in typical activities, decreased concentration, irritability, decreased productivity, and excessive guilt. A full criteria for diagnosis is available in the
    Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or
    DSM-IV. Counseling, lifestyle changes, nutritional supplements, and botanical medicines may lessen symptoms associated with this condition.

  3. Sandra September 14, 2010 at 1:50 pm #

    Love this- “I have found that God is much better at finding me in Scripture than I am of finding Him.” Thank you for sharing your encouragement and strength today!

  4. Wendy September 14, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    Thanks, Sandra and Elizabeth.

    Anonymous, perhaps. In fact, I imagine the vast majority of us could be diagnosed with such a disorder — at least if we face up to the real world we live in. Lifestyle changes, supplements, and so forth can be helpful. I myself always benefit from a long rest. But your comment seems to minimize the supernatural source of encouragement/counseling/rest that God promises in Scripture, which is the point of this post.

  5. Bina September 14, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

    Hi Wendy, I totally relate to this post and have felt exactly the same way at times. I think it is a function of living in the “already” and “not yet”. I also think if our hearts are tender in this world and our eyes are open, we will experience heartbreak and this type of sorriw. Praising God for His strength, His Word, and for dear friends like you who help in these times. Love you, Bina

  6. Becky September 14, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

    After a bit of a 'slump' (I tend to slide easily into depression), yesterday the Lord gave me great renewal through His Word! I used to look for particular verses pertaining to my needs (although I think that doing this is appropriate at times), but now I just read through my Bible reading–picking up where I left off the day before. Yesterday was a time of rebuke,joy,comfort,etc. all in the book of Psalm. I love the peace that only God can give!

    I'm praising the Lord with you for the encouragment from God's Word! I'll pray for you as you face bouts of discouragement. Thank you so much for your blog–I know that God has used you and your posts in my life.

  7. Mrs. B September 14, 2010 at 7:43 pm #

    OH Yes, to look at Jesus and know Him through His Word is such an encouragement in the ups and downs of life… He is our great hope! So we can say regardless of our mood, He is our rock and anchor. What a treasure to have the Word of God in our hands!!
    Thanks for your posts, Wendy!I have enjoyed reading through them! I just bought your book a few days ago…It is very good. I am 2/3 finished with it. Hope to go through it again with some friends. The topic is very needed in today's church. Thanks for writing it!

  8. Saralyn September 15, 2010 at 1:30 am #

    That old upside down kingdom again, yes? We know that things aren't as they should be, yet keep expecting them to be fixed in the old way. But Jesus says blessed are those who are poor, meek, mourn and suffer… How we need eyes that see and ears that hear!

  9. Eliz September 15, 2010 at 2:58 am #

    I am so very grateful for your honesty in this post (and in all your posts!). I have days like that (hm… as recently as yesterday?), and as a young wife, I try not to freak my husband out too much… he always gently directs me back to God and His love and grace. But I have so often wondered if other women do that… frustratingly, I haven't heard of anyone else, though I have been sure I couldn't be the only one… Things aren't as they should be; I'm so glad we can hope in greater things.
    Thank you, again!

  10. Christa September 15, 2010 at 2:55 pm #

    Thanks for this, Wendy. I don't always comment on your blog, but this post is ringing true for me right now. I feel the same way from time to time and it's great that you can express something I can only think and will never be able to write out fully. But you hit the nail on the head. Thanks for your honesty!

  11. Wendy September 15, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

    Thanks for commenting, Christa! Love you. W