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December 13, 2017, 8:59 AM

Faithful In Suffering

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead… that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained.” (2 Tim. 2:8-9, NRSV)

Scripture calls us to be faithful, even in the midst of suffering. In order to receive the full impact of this passage, we need to understand the particular kind of suffering Paul said he was enduring. The word for suffer in verse 9 is kakopatho (kako – evil; pascho – suffer). This is a very strong word, indicating the influences of evil or Satan himself to use what happens to us to try to induce us to question God’s faithfulness in the management of our lives. We become vulnerable when a physical, emotional, or relational difficulty causes us to wonder if the Lord has forgotten us.

“Why did this happen?” we ask. “What is the Lord up to in permitting this to happen?” we demand. A prolonged illness, relentless pain, grief, strained or broken relationships, misunderstanding of the motives of others, or feeling misunderstood, problems that pile up, etc., – all can bring us to the edge of doubting the goodness of the Lord. We suffer the temptation to question His love for us. Added to all this, we’ve all been upset by the thoughtlessness, carelessness, or just plain pigheadedness of people. Why does God allow their derisive and divisive words and actions?

To help us in our journey, Paul gives us some things to remember. “Remember… Jesus Christ” (2:8). Remember the Incarnate Christ who lived among us in human flesh. Remember the images He used to teach us of faithfulness. Remember the Christ who forgave those who didn’t seem to deserve it, who gave shalom to the distressed, and communicated hope to the disheartened. Remember the cross and the resurrection. Remember Jesus, the faithful One. When we relive Calvary, we realize what an awesome revelation of God’s faithfulness the resurrection was and is.

Another reason Paul could survive and remain faithful in suffering was because he had a gospel. Paul had an evangel – a gospel, good news, truth he had experienced and spent his life communicating to others. Jesus Christ became Paul’s purpose and passion. This gospel kept him going. He had exciting news to share. What would you say is your gospel? What is the good news according to you? We all have a gospel. What Christ means to us personally and our personal application of His message, death, resurrection, and reigning power to all of the demands of life become our gospel. People around us are reading the gospel according to you and me all the time. When they look at us may they see a gospel of love and faithfulness in all circumstances.

Let us join in prayer: Father, I thank you for this day, for what it shall bring, opportunities, life, hope, strength. And for what it may take away. Teach me to trust you in the comings and goings of life. In the name of your faithful Son, Jesus, I pray. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

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