For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4)
Hope Comes From The Word
There are about 592,439 words in the Old Testament. The New Testament covers about 181,253 words, with a total combined summary of 773,692 words in the complete Bible. Some years after Paul wrote his letter to the Roman saints, the canon of the Bible was complete, but he recognized the full value of the available scriptures to the early Christians. Paul understood the importance of the written word as a conduit transcending the generations from Moses to Malachi as a message of hope. Reading the word was not to be an intellectual exercise but an emotional experience to create in the heart a love for the promises of God with the blessed assurance that God never lies. Every story of the Old Testament resonates with the grace of God, telling man of the hope he has in the word of the Lord.
Hope is an essential ingredient in the life of the child of God. Paul did not have the advantage of the completed revelation but he knew what power lay in the words of scripture. The word of God is a powerful demonstration of the promises of God. Those promises never fail, whether good or bad. The word of God is true when the Lord promises blessings and His word is true when the wrath of God is unleashed. Hope does not come naturally. The experience of hope is honed by the many hours spent in the word seeing the struggles of faulty men seeking the righteousness of a loving Father and the constant forgiveness of a merciful God. Noah was a man who received the message of God’s wrath in the destruction of the world and the promise of salvation in building the ark. Reading stories such as Noah’s ark brings hope to the downtrodden soul.
Knowledge comes from reading the word of God. Hope springs from this knowledge and is proportionate to the amount of knowledge one has of the word. Often, the Christian life is filled with doubt and fear because little time is spent in the word of God to see how God cares for His saints. The Bible stories are not stories for the casual reader, but rather stories declaring the salvation of the Lord. Hope comes from seeing how God answers prayers, completes His will in the lives of His people, and remembers the frail dust of man’s nature in divine forgiveness. The stories change from generation to generation, but the Lord’s promises remain the same. Paul reminds the Roman saints that the scriptures give hope and encouragement to all who wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. This is a learned experience.
Earlier in the letter to Rome, Paul showed that faith comes from hearing the word of God. Hope and faith are inseparably connected to one another. Faith will increase with time spent in the word and hope becomes the by-product of faith. Learning requires effort. Putting forth the effort to learn the stories and teachings of the Bible (Old and New) will fortify the soul with courage, fill the heart with hope, and bless the mind with the assurance of salvation in Jesus Christ. All of these are contingent on the time spent reading the word of God. Too many Bibles gather dust rather than dusting off the cobwebs of doubt in the heart. The scriptures give hope. Read the word of God to be wise in this life and to know the glory of life to come. If you lack faith and have little hope – take time to read the scriptures.