This pandemic has brought about great fear, anxiety, and even depression to many people. Almost every week, local news reports on cases of suicide from all ages, young and old. A recent one is about a father from Calaanan, who hanged himself after losing courage and hope to continue living and surviving.
This is what happens to people when they lose hope. They give up. They quit. Hope and perseverance go together. Hope is a future promise that keeps us going. It is the carrot 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.
Paul writes in Romans 15 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 Christians 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!
Paul writes in Romans 15:5–6 that we encourage one another when we live in unity, without being at each others’ 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 and prayers 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.
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.
Psalms are a great source of encouragement, because
(a) they meet us where we are, in the midst of difficulty and conflict,
(b) they remind us of what God has done, and
(c) they bring us face to face with God in prayer.
Let’s get the psalms back into our worship and private devotions.