When I made the decision to praise God, it was really the decision to submit to His Sovereignty in my life, just like my dad did when he gave me up to God. All the rest of my decisions have been shaped by that initial choice, and my emotions trailed along behind. The Bible played a key role in this decision and the consequences flowing from it.
“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope”. (Romans 15:4)
These two things, perseverance and encouragement of the scriptures, are important factors in getting through tough times. The scriptures are full of encouragement because they are about God’s dealings with people, people just like you and me. Here is an excerpt from my first blog, written days after my first cancer surgery:
What is hopeless and impossible with man is not so for God, for all things are possible with God. Am I scared? Of course I am. Do I have anger and fears? Absolutely. I cry to the Lord who hears and understands, and who alone can do anything about them. I cast myself on his mercy. If others hadn’t been in similar situations we wouldn’t have the scriptures which are full of such agonies. Now I choose to affirm my faith in the God Who Is. And He highly values faith.
Encouragement of the scriptures only comes from reading the scriptures on a regular basis. This is what I was talking about earlier, when I said I continued my reading in the Psalms after my cancer diagnosis. I had made reading scripture a part of my life, really hearing what it has to say and letting it sink in. No one hands encouragement of the scriptures to you apart from reading or hearing the scriptures. From the Bible I learned about what others have gone through down through the centuries, many of them much worse than my circumstances. I read how God was present with them and helped those who trusted in Him, and I gained encouragement in the midst of my scary situation.