Hope & Encouragement
What happens to people when they lose hope? They usually give up. They will most likely quit. Hope and perseverance go hand in hand. Hope is a future promise that keeps us going. It is the carrot dangling before the donkey. Hope knows that there is a goal, and that the goal is worth pursuing, even through hardship and difficulty. If we don’t have hope, we won’t have perseverance.
In Romans 15 Paul writes that everything in Scripture was written to instruct us in the Christian hope. Throughout the old testament we see God’s faithfulness in spite of man’s sin. We see the saints going through times of suffering and discouragement. We see the saints exiled to the wilderness, with no apparent future. But we also see that in time, God brings them back for greater service than before. The kingdom of God never shrinks; it may flow underground for a season, but it always emerges mightier than before. God is not going to be the loser in history!
Therefore, with the encouragements of the Scripture before us, we should have hope. And following God’s example, we should encourage one another. Paul writes in Romans 15:5–6 that we encourage one another when we live in unity, without being at each other’s’ throats, and that a fundamental expression of that unity is worship. When we stand together to sing God’s praises in the psalms and great hymns of the church, we encourage one another. The man who comes to worship downcast and beaten may emerge with new hope simply because of the unity of worship he has experienced.
God gives endurance and encouragement. It is not just the history of redemption as recorded in the Bible that gives us encouragement. It is not just the continuing history of the church, which indeed shows growth over 2,000 years, that gives encouragement. And it is not just the fellowship of other saints, in life and in praise, that gives encouragement. But it is primarily God Himself who gives us encouragement. If we lack endurance and hope, we need to learn more about the attributes and intentions of God; for the more we know Him, the more encouraged we will be.
- Joel French