On most mornings I turn to the Scriptures as much out of a good, lifelong habit as anything else. On some mornings I approach God’s Word with a more keen sense of purpose. And sometimes I come with a real desire to meet God.
But on many occasions—often outside my daily routine of Bible intake—I turn to the Word of God out of an acute awareness of need. The world’s increasing complexity may have tensed my anxiety and frustration levels close to the snapping point. Or suffering, finances, or circumstances may have drained all my courage, endurance, or heart.
At such times we should go to the Bible and ask the Lord to give us patience, comfort, and hope through His Word.
We can do so with confidence, because the Bible expressly says, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that we through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
When the apostle Paul spoke of things “written in former days” he was referring to what we now call the Old Testament. Today we can affirm that “whatever was written in former days” applies to the New Testament as well. The whole Bible was written “for our instruction,” that is, to instruct us—chiefly about God and His glory, and His work through Jesus Christ. And through these Scriptures, God gives real “endurance and . . . encouragement . . . [and] hope.”
Every now and then my heart is so broken, or my grief so deep, or my burden so heavy that I drop down in my desk chair, open the Bible, put my head in my hands and cry out, “Father, please encourage me through Your Word.” Or, “Lord, I’m so discouraged. I don’t know if I can go on. Give me hope!”
How does He answer? Sometimes it’s through promises, such as, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Or He answers through the assurances of doctrinal passages like Romans 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us.” Or He may reply through the comfort of psalms penned by writers with the same passions coursing through my soul: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God” (Psalm 42:5).
Overall, I think God means for us to draw endurance, encouragement, and hope from the Scriptures by seeing there how He has always accomplished His purposes throughout the world and at all times, and then believing that He will accomplish them in our lives. I can read the Old Testament, and then see how God fulfilled it later in Jesus Christ and the church. I can read in the New Testament of both the power of Christ and His tender mercies toward His own. Then I encounter the repeated promises that Jesus will return for His people and take us to an eternal home of joy more glorious than all the sunsets in the history of the world combined.
Through these holy, historic, and living words God grants endurance regarding His timing and providence in my life. Through these God-breathed lines I experience the encouragement of His presence and precious promises. And in the pages of Scripture He gives me the hope of a better world that is one day closer.
In His mercy, the Lord encourages us through people, circumstances, and countless other ways. But there’s no simpler, purer, or more direct means of receiving endurance, encouragement, or hope than by going to His Word and asking for it.
This material originally appeared in Donald S. Whitney, Simplify Your Spiritual Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2003), 52-53.