When has God seemed far away? What helped you—or would have helped you—be faithful during that time? How did you get through that time, and looking back, how did you grow?
If you haven’t faced a time when it’s been tough to stand firm for Jesus, you will. But as the passages we’ve just read and the stories we’ve shared remind us, God uses those times of testing, trial, and temptation to make us stronger—to give us more character—to deepen our hope—to make us more like Jesus.
The letter of 2 Timothy was written by Paul to his disciple and friend Timothy near the end of his life. In it, Paul tried to pass on as much as he could to his son in the faith. Let’s see what he focused on. Open a new tab, read the last two chapters (3 & 4), then think about this:
• What examples of faithfulness—or unfaithfulness—do you see in this passage?
• How was Paul affected by others’ faithfulness, or their lack thereof? How was Paul faithful, regardless of what other people were doing?
• Likewise, in our walks with Jesus, when is it easier to take a stand for him? When isn’t it so easy?
• Ultimately, how much do you let your feelings dictate how willing you are to take a stand for Jesus—and how you actually do it? Do you “obediently suffer through it,” talk yourself out of what you think God is telling you to do, or ignore what you’re feeling and take a stand?
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you….
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:7-12, 16-18, NIV).
• In what ways does the idea that we’re already dying bother you? Why?
• Where is it costing you—or where do you sense it will cost you—to follow Jesus? Who’s your Timothy—someone who can help you carry that load?
Go with what God’s already impressing on you. But go. And be blessed.