All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16–17
When David wrote the two psalms that we know as Psalm 22 and 23, he poured out his desperate heart to God in a very pitiful time. In Psalm 22, David began by writing, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? The psalm continues to reveal the emotional anguish David was going through, even seeing himself as a worm and not a man. Psalm 23 is known and quoted often as David spoke of himself being in the valley of the shadow of death. These two psalms have resonated with me and many others that I know; many of us get this. Many of us understand that feeling of being forsaken and all alone. Many of us know the feeling of the valley walls encroaching all around us. But this is where I realized the usefulness of Scripture. We read these psalms and readily connect to the dismay, and as we continue to read, we see the salvation of God, the one who wants to walk with us in our valley, the one who truly has not forsaken us. I realize that I see me in those pages; a parallel to my problem and a revelation of the hope of my salvation. I know what Paul was saying when he wrote to Timothy about the usefulness of Scripture.
The Scriptures offer us many more examples of problems that probably all of us can so quickly relate to. Reading through these stories provide solitude while realizing that someone understands what we are going through, but also hope, that there is a brighter end. Many in Scripture have felt defeated. Consider Joseph when he was sitting in that jail cell. Just days prior, he was wearing a coat of many colors from his loving father. After a while, Joseph started to see better days, just for it all to come crumbling down again when he was accused of molesting Potiphar’s wife. Again, sitting in that jail cell, little hope and no glimmer of light ahead. Many of us know the feeling; we find ourselves in the story. That is where it becomes more useful than we could ever imagine. As we continue to read through the story of Joseph, we see that God was orchestrating a plan all along; a plan that would benefit Joseph and his whole family.
I don’t want to leave the topic of feeling defeated until I at least mention Peter. We know the story of Peter and how he denied Jesus three times. Peter had to carry that guilt and watch Jesus die a brutal death with no chance to make amends. Those three days had to be so heavy for Peter; aching with the weight of defeat. How many of us can relate to such a foolish act that tares us down as the guilt viciously strips us of all hope of redemption. But then as we continue reading, we see Peter at the feet of Jesus after the resurrection. Peter was being forgiven and reminded of the unmatched love of God. I find myself in this passage; I have failed miserably, but this story shows me God’s redemption and guilt-ridding power of forgiveness.
Many of us have dealt with lust. I find the Scriptures to be useful as I see stories such as David. David fell hard when he sinned with Bathsheba. Some of us might have suffered the same lure, and perhaps the same fall. We read Scripture and see the usefulness as we are made well aware of the horrible consequences. But as we just saw, we also see the redemptive mercy and forgiveness of God. Solomon was also a man who struggled with lust. The Scriptures show that his love for women contributed to his demise. Furthermore, no matter how much he surrounded himself with those women, they did not fulfill. As we read through the book of Ecclesiastes, we notice that Solomon found fulfillment only as he turned his attention to God. The Scriptures become useful when we sometimes may struggle with lust. We not only see what such a sin can do to our lives, but how God wants to save us from it. We also see how God Himself wants to fulfill us rather than the fleeting pleasure of lust.
The final topic I will discuss is contention. However, as you survey the Scriptures, you will realize that you will find yourself on many pages. In the book of Philippians, Paul wrote a beautiful letter to the church in Philippi illuminating the humility of Christ. Reading through the letter, you could wonder where Paul was going with this, until you come to the end and read of two women who are not getting along in the church. Many of us have had to address difficult matters with others. I clearly find myself in those pages. I have at times been as one of those women. But then I am reminded of the humility of Christ and how we are likewise to do nothing out of selfish ambition. Scriptures quickly become useful.
Scriptures are more than good stories; they are more than chapters to meet a quota each day. When you read, look for yourself on each page. We each will find ourselves on many pages. What do we learn? How are we instructed? How are we encouraged?