We noted in an article posted June 20, 2020 what a privilege it is to have the word of God available to us. We shared that listening to the New Testament for 20 minutes or so on a daily basis allows one to hear it six to seven times a year. We call this being Washed by the Word, and it’s absolutely life-changing.
There are times, however, when my listening schedule slows down. This sometimes happens when I sense the Lord would have me pay particular attention to a certain portion of Scripture, or perhaps a particular book of the New Testament. This happened recently as I started listening to the book of Romans again. It was almost as if I was hearing it afresh, as if I was hearing it for the first time.
The words of Romans came alive. Fresh meaning and application seemed to jump out of verses that I’d read and heard so many times before. I suppose that’s what’s meant by Hebrews 4:12 (ESV). This verse says:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
To have God’s word come alive in a fresh way in one’s spirit is thrilling. The gospels have a strong emphasis on reconciliation to God through Jesus, a process known as justification. Many other portions of Scripture tend to focus on how we can live to please God, a process known as sanctification. A few mornings ago I reached Romans 12 in my listening schedule. I’ve shared before what this chapter means to me. I noted that if all that survived of scripture through the ages was the gospels and a few small portions of other books, I would desperately want Romans 12 to have survived. It’s that important to me.
As I listened again to this chapter that’s so familiar, the Lord used it in wonderful ways. One example is verse 12. In the ESV this reads:
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
This eleven words went straight to my heart. They hit me as if I’d never heard them before, and as if they were the key to unlocking a deep mystery whose full meaning had been hidden for ages past. In reality, they’re just a few words that millions have read in many languages for almost two thousand years. But for that moment the Lord used them to speak to me in a very special way. He used them to encourage me at a moment when I was less than enthusiastic about what’s happening in the world in general, and was tempted to be downcast about some challenges I’ve been facing in particular.
I cannot with words articulate what Romans 12:12 meant to me at that moment. I can simply say that the Lord gave me a fresh sense, just a glimpse, of what waits for those who trust in him for salvation. There can be no greater reason to hope than to know with certainty that we will spend eternity in God’s presence. There is nothing that can compare with this to cause one’s heart to rejoice, even in very dark times.
Likewise, given what awaits us and the hope it inspires, we have everything we need to face tribulation with patience. In the light of eternity with God what we face here is nothing, and it’s worth battling through. Finally, we are not alone in this war. Through prayer we can draw very close to God. We can share with him the burdens of our own hearts and be strengthened. We can also bring the needs of those whom we love to God in prayer, and see amazing results.
We’re reminded in Psalm 145:18 (ESV) that:
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
What could be better? What could be more encouraging than to know that even in the darkest moments or seasons of life all who’ve been reconciled to God through Jesus can draw near. Moreover, God uses his word and his Holy Spirit to awaken within us faith and strength as we need them most.
No matter what’s ahead for us, let’s remember and be encouraged by the fact that we can rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer. We can do so because we know the One in whom we believe, and because the joy that awaits us after this journey called life is far greater than we can at this time comprehend. Be of good cheer, my friend, and know that you’re by no means alone on this journey.