As you stride through the fields of life you move through patches of briars and brambles, those patches usually feature dark clouds and cold winds as well. Each of us have gone through these times. Each of us will go through more of them. A memory of such a tough time may have flashed upon your mind’s High-Def screen. As those memories are awakened it is a fine opportunity to recall how God brought you through challenging seasons of life. Enter 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.”
As I read that passage this morning seeds of thought sprouted. As the thoughts rooted, then grew, I took to pen and paper. Here are some of the principles that bloomed:
- First, God’s Word is given to for us instruction. Obvious from the text, I know, but the instruction of God’s word is the beginning of the construction of our hope. Or, to put it another way, God’s instruction to us is the framework for our hope in Him.
- Second, for us to continue climbing steep slopes in life — often rain-soaked and slippery, no less — we must decide to persevere. Romans 15:4 points out the practice of pressing on as a link to hope. During trying times God demonstrates His graciousness to us and we should demonstrate our grittiness to Him. Endurance is faith in continued action.
- Third, God’s Word is given to us for encouragement. Again, obvious from the passage, but, what is not obvious is the connection of the hope that we receive from the Scriptures to our means of receiving it. Here it is: God’s Word instructs us, our endurance propels us, and His Word then encourages us. At this point it would be easy, and self-gratifying, to think that our endurance is the link between the instruction given and hope gained in God’s Word. It’s not. Our endurance is necessary, but not primary. The question raising its hand and squirming in its seat begging to be answered is this, “Where does the endurance come from?” Just as instruction and hope come from God, our endurance comes from Him as well. Scripture shows us that God is the source of our endurance. It’s not us. It never is.
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you…”Romans 15:5
Colossians 1:11 steps in as a reminder as well:
“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy…”
These two verses reveal that our ability to endure comes from strength that God provides. The real lesson here, and true hope, is that it’s all by God’s grace.
Through His grace:
- His Word instructs us.
- His Word delivers hope to us.
- His Spirit grants strength to us, so that we are able to endure.
It’s His grace top to bottom, front to back, and on all sides.
When you find yourself struggling uphill, cold and wet, remember that His grace in Christ calls to us from His Word. Take a moment, rest under a hillside oak for shelter, and open His Word. He will teach you, strengthen you, and bring hope to you. Then, you will find yourself warm, dry, and ready to climb again. Go climb. Climb with hope. Climb in grace…