A Better Way to Be Encouraged.

I’ll admit that often times when I flop my Bible open my heart, is not hungry to know more about God. But, rather I want a “word” to encourage me on this race set before me. The heaviness of even the smallest things of daily life often wears me so that inwardly I don’t want to meet with God in His Word, I simply prefer a pep talk or a word of encouragement. Some days I’m not so sure that these little pieces are fitting together for a greater whole. And I don’t have the eyes of faith to see that God is constantly gathering up the pieces for my good and His glory. I often want to know (selfishly) how my story will end. Will I rock in old rocking chairs with a godly man who out of his love for God, has learned to love me well? Will He fulfill the requests I’ve made that I may be greatly used by Him? Will I ever hear the pitter-patter of little feet?

Now, I know that those are the wrong reasons to come to God’s Word. But it is also true that I’m so inclined to despondency, discouragement, and faintheartedness that I’ve had this attitude toward the Scriptures more than once.

While reading Isaiah 51 recently, God did that thing again where He proved to me that His Word is living. The words popped off the pages, words that I’m sure I have read before:

“Listen to Me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the LORD: look to the rock, from which you were cut, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain. When I called him, he was only one; I blessed him and made him many.”

Isaiah 51:1-2 HCSB

And then:

“Look up to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and its inhabitants will die like gnats. But My salvation will last forever, and My righteousness will never be shattered.”

Isaiah 51:6 HCSB

God tells His people to look back to His dealings with His saints. And to look all around them at the creation He has made and sustains, alone. Even as I write this I don’t know what plans God has in His heart for me. Yet, I know that if He was good then, He is still good. And because He was faithful to Abraham and even Sarah, He will be faithful to me. I don’t know how or when my life will end, but I do know that thanks to Jesus Christ it will end in victory and with me spending an eternity with my faithful Savior.

Upon finding this timely treasure in God’s word I ran to the internet to skim over various commentaries on this passage and ran into this written by E. Johnson:

“Faith needs to be fed from memory, and memory exerts its proper activity under the instigation of faith. Old truths need constantly to be recalled, and become new truths through the act of attention- the “giving heed to the things we have heard, lest at any time we let them slip.”’

God has inspired and reserved Scriptures for our blessing and for our good. I didn’t need a “fresh word” I needed to observe the mighty deeds and acts of a compassionate God. I needed to be reminded of who He is, what He has done and what He will surely do.

This suggestion was not inspired by humans, but by God himself. All throughout the Scriptures, we see God’s people looking back for God’s faithfulness. They had no way of knowing what lay before them, nor could they see what God intended by their suffering or trials. And indeed felt they had nothing to point to that God was even with them. So they remembered the psalms they sang of God’s justice and compassion.

When Asaph was greatly troubled by some unknown difficulty and consumed by faith-shattering questions. This trouble was so overwhelming that he couldn’t rest at all, nor could anyone comfort him (Psalms 77:2) It was then that he remembered God:

“So I say, “I am grieved that the right hand of the Most High has changed.” I will remember the Lord’s works; yes, I will remember Your ancient wonders. I will reflect in all You have done and meditate on Your actions.”

Psalms 77:10-12 HCSB

Time would fail to list all the men and women of the Bible who took on fresh courage not by hearing a “fresh word” nor by receiving a pep talk, but by meditating and reflecting on what God has done long ago.

We don’t need a “fresh word” from God, we need a fresh look at the same God. We need to behold Him who changes not. God doesn’t have to unfurl all of His plans for our lives, we need to look back to His awesome and meaningful dealings with those who now are around His throne in heaven.

It’s not in the knowledge that we will be granted the peace we desire, but it’s only in the trusting of Him that we will receive and hold it (Isaiah 30:15). How or when will I be greatly used by God? Will I turn gray with a loving husband? Will I ever have my lap or arms full? I don’t know. But what I do know is that God has said that He will be glorified by His saints’(Isaiah 49:3;2 Thessalonians 1:12). God has also promised to carry us to gray hairs (Isaiah 46:4). God has promised the childless a name better than sons and daughters (Isaiah 56:5). I know wherever God calls His child rather to His fields or to a sickbed He is enough. And that for those who lose their spouses or never even walk down an altar, I’m quite sure they are never alone. And too for those who never have children that they can have a heart full and home full of steps from spiritual sons and daughters. There may be a part of your life that the world or even yourself would deem empty, but God himself has occupied it. He has taken that spot, not to harm you, but rather to give you more of Himself.

We are a forgetful people (Isaiah 51:13) and we wearily come to the Word to be reminded. We are reminded that indeed God wastes not our tears (Psalm 56:8) or anything at all. That indeed He remembers and will reward our service to Him. We need to be reminded that a cross is better here than any short-lived crown (Matthew 16:24). We need to be reminded that these trials ought not to surprise nor are they sent to destroy us, (Isaiah 43:2) but that they are ordered to prepare an eternal glory for us (2 Corinthians 4:17). We need to be reminded that God never sleeps nor slumbers and is always at work (Psalm 121:4).

I’ll conclude this post with a stanza written by famous hymn-writer Frances Ridley Havergal:

“Our yet unfinished story

Is tending all to this:

To God the greatest glory,

To us the greatest bliss.”

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