Encouragement When We Need Comfort, Grace, and Hope
Lately I’ve been meditating on the familiar (and therefore neglected) words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30. Though I memorized the words as a new Christian 45 years ago, I have never pondered them as much as recently. I’ve been looking at it phrase by phrase, and contemplating each word. Of course this is not a magic formula that will eliminate our pains and heartaches. But it is a blood-bought promise from the One who knows us better and loves us more than anyone. And I’ve found it recently not to eliminate my burdens but to lighten them measurably, just as Jesus promised:
Come to me,
all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart
and you will find rest for your soul.
For my yoke is easy
and my burden is light.
I think I could meditate on each of these sentences, phrases, and words the rest of my life, and be nourished by them.
Here are three passages on grace:
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:8-9)
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
I recommend these three books on grace, each different than the other: Phil Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace?, Max Lucado’s Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine, and Chuck Swindoll’s The Grace Awakening. I recommend the audio books, too. Personally I love listening to books, probably a third of those I “read” are audio. Sometimes it’s less work, and the words speak to me differently.
In addition to grace, but related to it, during times of discouragement and weariness, I need hope. These hope-related verses aren’t like Band-Aids or a cure-all, but as cold water for a weary and thirsty soul. Our minds will inevitably latch onto something during trials, may they latch onto words of comfort, grace, and hope. Here are some on hope:
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you. (Psalm 33:22)
Why are you downcast, o my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (Psalm 42:5)
In your name I will hope, for your name is good. (Psalm 52:9)
Find rest, o my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. (Psalm 62:5)
You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas. (Psalm 65:5)
I have put my hope in your word. (Psalm 119:74)
Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed. (Psalm 119:116)
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. (Ephesians 1:18-19)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)