I am just grateful that God is speaking to me. He's showing me things in His Word. He is encouraging me. Every time I read the Bible or go to church He will highlight things for me to take note of; to apply to my life, internalize, personalize... My faith is growing as I read. For example:
Matthew 16:18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[a] and on this rock [that is, the confession that Jesus Christ is the Living Son of God and the Savior] I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[b] will not overcome it.
No army has ever marched on the offensive bringing their gates and their doorposts with them to war. So many people have used this Scripture as an illustration that the church will stand tall in the midst of opposition. But apparently, it's not the church that is just standing tall. It's hell (hades) that is standing, with their gates up, on the defensive. Which leaves us with the only alternative -the church is supposed to be on the OFFENSIVE. We're supposed to be marching, conquering... I know it sounds aggressive, overbearing, and it can feel rude to some people. But the Bible also says that "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal", and "we do not wage war against flesh and blood, but against principalities and demons..." So it's not conquering other cultural groups or actual people, but the demonic forces (which you may or may not believe in) that enslave these people; addictions, depression, fear, abuse... Poverty, injustice, racism... The things in the spiritual realm that can make believers (and unbelievers) miserable and wretched.
10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 because they rebelled against God’s commands
and despised the plans of the Most High.
12 So he subjected them to bitter labor;
they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
16 for he breaks down gates of bronze
and cuts through bars of iron.
We can march forward past the gates of Hades because the Lord is strong enough to "break down gates of bronze" and He "cuts through bars of bronze". Even the hardest, most addicted, most rebellious heart has the hope of being... well... redeemed! I love this piece of Scripture because it reminds me that even if I'm paying for my own sin, even if I DESERVE the pit and the slavery because I ignored His commands and acted in rebellion, His love is still unfailing! He still does wonderful things for mankind! He still desires to deliver me. He is that good! And I can trust Him not only when I'm in darkness, and in chains, but when my loved ones are as well.
7 Though I am surrounded by troubles,
you will protect me from the anger of my enemies.
You reach out your hand,
and the power of your right hand saves me.
8 The Lord will work out his plans for my life—
for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.
Don’t abandon me, for you made me.
I can't read this and not be encouraged. I pray that you are encouraged too. God is good in the midst of our trials. I trust Him - even though I'm not excited about where I am in my life. I know with all of my heart that God wants more for our family than this one bedroom itty-bitty apartment that has no heat in the winter and the pipes leak all summer. More than the cigarette smoke that comes in through the heating vents, than the mixed smell of urine and alcohol of the homeless people that sneak into our unit and sleep in our hallway. But He promised, He will "work out His plans for my life, for His faithful love endures forever". He gave me that Scripture (and you too!) so I can believe He's saying it for me!
I guess that's the point of the Bible. It's way too many words for any of it to go to waste into randomness. All those words (and that book is thick!) is for me. To teach me, correct me, encourage me. He left it all in writing, from the beginning of the world till it's end, for ME to know what He is like, what He has done in the past, and what He can do for me. See, the more I read about Him, the more I come to know His character. He loves me, and wants me to really know Him.