Words of Encouragement from the Bible
The classic text on encouragement is Jeremiah 29:11, which states, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (NIV). Although this promise was made to the Israelite nation thousands of years ago, the principle today remains the same. The Lord goes on in verse 13 to tell these Israelites that have been exiled from their home country that, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” This statement points ahead to the one Jesus made to the Pharisees in Matthew 22: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
But there are plenty of other verses that offer encouragement to believers today. The words the Lord spoke to Joshua as he took over Moses’ reins as leader of Israel have brought encouragement to many Christians: “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them (Joshua 1:6).” And why was Joshua able to be “strong and courageous”? Because God promised that he would never leave him nor forsake him (Joshua 1:5). Just as today, Jesus has promised that he would be with us always, “to the very end of the age,” (Mt. 28:20, NIV).
Another Scripture that has brought many believers encouragement, although it doesn’t address discouragement specifically, is found in the first chapter of Ephesians. The apostle Paul here delineates all the blessings we have received through our faith in Christ. Holy, blameless, redeemed, and best of all adopted as sons of God through Jesus Christ (v.5). The footnote in the NIV goes on to clarify that the Greek word used here is the one that refers to a legally adopted male heir in Roman culture—one that shares all the rights and privileges of the biological heir. In other words, we who share the faith with our Jewish brothers, though they have been “born” into faith through Abraham, also share in the promises that God made to Abraham as well.
For those who are in ministry, Galatians 6:9 can be a staff of support to lean on when it seems that nothing you are doing makes a difference. The verse reminds us to “…not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up, (NIV).” For Christians we can rest assured that eventually, there will come an end to our troubles and trials, and at that end there will be a reward. But even if there was not, the principle that Paul puts in writing here would still hold true, and would be a worthy reason to do good as we are able all by itself. “…he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting, (Gal. 6:8, KJV).
And finally, there’s Psalm 23. A source of encouragement for literally thousands of years, the lilting verses of David’s 23rd Psalm strengthened the spines of believers when translating the Bible was a capital offense. The King James version of the Psalm still sounds best, some three millennia after it was written:
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
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