“Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord.” (2 Timothy 4:5)
Words are very important, but perhaps more important still, is the person who speaks the words.
Imagine a wealthy gentleman who has enjoyed good health all his life, has feasted like royalty daily, has never known real heartache and who lives a life of peace, comfort and security, speaking these words, ‘don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord’. You would look at him in disbelief and perhaps even ridicule. How on earth can this man have any idea what it is to suffer for the Lord? I’m afraid we would all walk away from the man, paying little attention to his words.
Enter Paul! Now, here is a man who indeed has suffered. He has been shipwrecked, known hunger and thirst, been stoned and left for dead. He was ‘put in prison more often,..whipped times without number, and faced death again and again’ (2 Corinthians). This is a man whose words you take notice of.
Have you ever wondered how Paul could have dared to write these words to Timothy? How did he know that Timothy could endure the suffering?
The answer is simple. Paul said, “ I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13 NLT). He could not have endured the sufferings in his own strength and willpower, but he found that there was One who came alongside and gave him the power and the strength that was needed to sustain him.
He, himself, could now pass this word on to Timothy that the One who had strengthened him in his hours of trial would be the One who would draw near to Timothy, so Timothy did not not need to be ‘afraid of suffering for the Lord’.
Many of you who read this will also have known your own hours of suffering in life, even if it hasn’t been directly related to preaching the gospel. You will have experienced days, weeks, months or even years of some kind of trial. And, like Paul, you have also discovered a hidden source of strength coming to you, quietly and sweetly to uphold you to the end.
Standing somewhere in the shadows you’ll find Jesus,
He’s the only One who cares and understands.
Standing somewhere in the shadows you will find Him,
And you’ll know Him by the nail prints in His hands.
For some of you, your hour of suffering may yet be ahead of you, but be encouraged by Paul’s words and, if and when the time comes, ‘don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord’.
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