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. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:4-7)
The Bible is meant to be read and heard. God Himself is speaking. God Himself is teaching. Vs. 4 speaks of the endurance and encouragements of the Scriptures and vs. 5 speaks of the God of endurance and encouragement.
Endurance. Encouragement – have hope. God does not always mean to downplay your suffering – though we need Him to do that sometimes. God does not always mean to downplay your restlessness, anxiety, and despair, though He always does want us to ask ourselves, “Do I despise His Word by neglect or by paying little or no attention when it is read or preached?” In other words, “If I am restless, anxious, despairing, angry, worried, not content, judgmental, greedy – restless: unquiet or uneasy in your body, mind, or heart; never at rest; perpetually agitated or in motion, if that is a proper diagnoses of my heart’s condition, then am I allowing God to grant me endurance and encouragement of the Scriptures that I might have hope?”
The Christian life is constantly lived outside of itself – in faith toward God and love toward neighbor. What too often happens when burdens come our way is that this life is flipped outside-in. “My life is so hard. I don’t have enough money. I am sick. I am tired. I have so much to do. I have so many people to care for. I am surrounded by people so hard to love. I am grieving. I am sad. My family is so broken. My job is hard. I’m a loser. I’m not smart. I’m not good enough. I’m unlovable. I’m so full of guilt and shame. I’m not enough for the people I love – I want to be, but I’m not, and they deserve better.”
“I, me, and my,” fill our vocabulary and they are so some of the most anxiety filled, restless words our hearts say and hear. We are like the birds of Finding Nemo taking all the things of the world and saying, “mine.” And then, we often collapse under them. Collapsing, it is so very hard to hear, “Hope in God. Believe in God. Love your neighbor.”
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.
The word “endurance” means a bearing up as if under a heavy burden. The burden doesn’t necessarily go away – though there are plenty of times we forget that it did. If it doesn’t go away from us, God reminds us that we do not have to bear it alone. He bears the heavy burdens of our sin and shame and the wrath we deserve. He bears the sentence of everlasting death. We don’t bear the uncertainty of what God thinks about us – He loves us and is at peace with us – or the uncertainty of where everything is heading – …then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near (Luke 21:27-28). You know your end. Heaven is certain. You can also be certain that, as Augustine says of God, “You move us to delight in praising You; for You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You.” Beautiful, promised, rest
The Bible is meant to be read. It was written for our learning. God Himself is teaching us and granting us endurance and encouragement so that me might have hope. Thank God it was written. Otherwise, I would forget it.
I have to put reminders in my phone regarding meetings, visits, schedules, to-do lists, etc. Perhaps you’re a sticky note person or the old school way of tying a string around your finger.
Our Lord’s Word is written down for our endurance and encouragements to that we might have hope. The Supper and blessings you receive today are a reminder that God is present here for you and He is present in your world and week. He ties a string around your finger be reminding you that He had nails pierced in His hands for you. He helps you bear up the burdens by reminding you He bore the cross and the burdens He gives you are light.
He desires, not to downplay living in this valley of the shadow of death, but He does want you to be less “me, my, I” and more “He, He, He” as in He welcomes you, He is in harmony with you, He is patient with you and also more about “them, them, them” that you are called to welcome – welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, live in harmony with, and be patient with.
Your heart is restless until it find rest in Him. His Word is written so that He can do that in Your today and everyday. Amen.