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Encouragement in difficult times

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By Keith Stewart

After the last few weeks of craziness in our nation and with the horrible drop in the stock market, I find myself wanting to offer some words of encouragement. It is believed by most biblical scholars that 2 Timothy is the Apostle Paul’s last letter before being put to death. He writes this inspirational and touching letter knowing that his days on earth are quickly coming to an end. It is referred to as a “prison Epistle” because Paul had written it while he was in custody in a Roman prison. His intention for writing such a letter was to encourage a young preacher named Timothy for whom the book is named after.
Every Christian needs a little encouraging at times, and especially in times of hardship. That great and mighty man of God and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit knew that young Timothy would face hardships and trials while serving the Lord. Paul also knew that he would not always be around to advise young Timothy. Paul’s desire was to encourage Timothy to faithfully endure and to carry on the work of the ministry that God had entrusted him. He exhorts Timothy to use the Word of God in overcoming obstacles in spreading the gospel. Paul’s words are of great comfort and of hope to young Timothy.
In 2 Timothy 1:8 Paul encourages Timothy “to not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.” In a world that is becoming ever more hostile toward the people and things of God, we have no room for being ashamed. The world wants Christians to be ashamed of Jesus, in order that we will stop preaching about sin. Satan desires for Christians to be ashamed of Jesus so that we will stop telling others about Jesus.
In 2 Timothy 2:1 Paul encourages Timothy to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” You want to know what I am ashamed of. It is Christians who don’t have the spiritual strength of an ant. The real strength of a Christian doesn’t come from the outside-in, but rather from the inside-out. The more Jesus you have in you, the stronger you become for Him
In 2 Timothy 2:3 Paul encourages Timothy to be “a good solider of Jesus Christ.” What is a good soldier of Jesus Christ? The word “endure” has several connotations of which one is “to continue,” but the Apostle Paul had something a little stronger in mind. He was telling Timothy “to be strong, firm, to persevere” under the heavy burden of preaching the Word. Evangelist Junior Hill said that he was asked by a young preacher who was having a difficult time in the ministry. He asked, “Brother Junior, will it ever get easy.” To which Brother Junior said, “Son, it will never get easy.”
A good soldier of Jesus Christ does not entangle himself with the affairs of this world. Christians are not to entwine themselves into this world so deep that we don’t live for Jesus. Brother Junior asked a soldier returning from the battle field, “What are the three hardest things that you must endure as a good solider?” As tears welled up in his eyes, he said, “The three hardest things in being a good soldier are: (1) The constant threat of knowing that someone is always out to kill me; (2) The frustration of seeing all the trouble, heartache and destruction; and (3) The loneliness that I have in being away from my family.”
Every good soldier of Jesus Christ faces these same three things: intimidation, frustration, and isolation. But you must not give up! You must endure!
One final encouragement that Paul offers young Timothy “be a workman that need not be ashamed.” Difficult times calls for every Christian to closely study the Word of God, but you must first believe that it is God’s Word. Stay close to it and it will never fail you.
Keith Stewart is pastor of Morriston Baptist Church.