Thank you for joining us today. My name is Angela González and I attend the West Pasco Campus.
You know those times you never forget? Walking down the aisle on your wedding day? Your child’s first steps? Those times that you remember so vividly because they changed the trajectory of your life or maybe because they brought you into a new journey? Well that is what happened to me the first time I heard this verse. It has definitely made the top 10 list of moments I have never forgotten because that moment changed the trajectory of how I suffered as a believer. You can find this passage in 2 Timothy chapter 1. If we zone in on verse 12 we find the verse that brought a renewed and transformed perspective to the suffering I face when God is my fortress. Paul writes and says to Timothy: “12 That is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard, until that day, what has been entrusted to me.”
Just for some context, Paul is encouraging Timothy to not be ashamed of the gospel and to not be ashamed of him. Why? Because Paul was in prison! Imagine telling people “ya, my mentor? The one I want to model after and be like, ya, uh, he’s in prison.” They’d think you’re crazy. But Paul wanted to make it clear to Timothy that the reason he was there was because of his passion and firm belief not in himself, not in what HE did, but his belief in the gospel. Paul believed the gospel was worth going to prison for. It was worth this suffering. He was confident that the gospel was worth the sacrifice of living a comfortable life. And he wanted to pass that down to Timothy.
So as I’m reading, I, too, start to feel that passion and firm belief but I’m struck with the thought of how difficult that would be for Paul to be saying these things while in prison, persecuted, yet how confident he is as he speaks. How does he do that? It must be because of everything he’s gone through. Paul suffered endlessly for Christ and you know what they say “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” The Holy Spirit taught me through the next verse though, how false this is. His confidence did not come from WHAT he had been through; it came from WHO he believed. He didn’t say “That is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know WHAT I believe.” He said for I know WHOM I have believed. That “WHOM” is who brought me here, that “WHOM” is why I suffer, and that “WHOM” is why, through my suffering, I press on. Paul didn’t focus on his circumstance. He never gave his circumstance the time of day. May we all live this way. Our circumstances do not define us nor do they give us the opportunity to suffer joylessly. “Rejoice in your suffering” says Paul in Romans chapter 5. Why? Because the Gospel is worth it. Jesus wins. His death and resurrection have defeated the enemy and his tactics. And if you know WHOM you believe, you can trust that God will walk with you through your suffering and there is no greater hand to hold than your Creator’s.
Let’s pray: Lord, I pray that my circumstances and suffering in this life be a testament to the faithful God that I serve. I ask that you would give us a firm faith and belief in your perfect will for our lives. Forgive us for trusting in our circumstances and our ability to overcome them. Humble our hearts to trust in your strength. When suffering comes our way, may we rest in WHOM we believe. That is you. May we BE STILL and know that you are good, you are faithful, and you have won the victory over sin and death. May we walk in that anchored in that truth daily. AMEN.