I’m sure you’ll agree with me. Rare is the person that hasn’t experienced the pain of failure. But then some seem to experience a lot more failure than others.
When we are experiencing those seasons of greater loss than gain, it can be very, very tempting to walk away from the faith we profess.
In the Bible, Paul could identify with season of loss, failure, and pain. The entire letter of 2 Timothy is written during one of the darkest periods of Paul’s life. Yet in this pain, he’s writing a letter of encouragement to Timothy and us.
We read in 2 Timothy 2:11-13:
11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.2 Timothy 2:11-13
New International Version
Paul had been encouraging Timothy to stay faithful to the Lord’s calling in his life. In spite of how bleak the Apostle Paul’s situation currently was, it was not cause to give up. On the contrary, suffering was worth it because we are walking in the footsteps of the master.
Ultimately, Paul was pointing Timothy Heavenward. The effectiveness and stamina Timothy’s work would require in Ephesus and wherever he would end up would require keeping his eyes on the prize: the pleasure of Jesus.
There is a certainty of a reward from our master because of our staying the course for and with Him.
Under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, Paul presents this “trustworthy saying” as a series of four “if/then” (conditional) phrases.
Our death to ourselves at the moment of our conversion is the guarantee that we will also live with Him in Heaven and live for Him here.
Our endurance on this earth validates our relationship with Him and assures our joining Jesus at the victory line.
Disowning Jesus doesn’t refer to temporary circumstances (like Peter when he denied Jesus three times). Instead, the Lord disowns us when we reject His offer of grace completely.
Even when our faith is so small and we fail our Master, we are surprised by this grace-filled reminder: “he remains faithful, for He cannot disown himself.”
That’s some good news! It reminds us our hope in this life and the next is not an act of our faith but of His grace. It is Jesus holding on to us and not the other way around.
Even our failures, faithlessness, and weakness serve His divine purpose: it magnifies his success, faithfulness, and strength. Our setbacks are His setups to show up and show off!
Dear one in Jesus, I don’t know what you’re facing today. Perhaps you’re struggling with maintaining your faith because things keep going south for you. Maybe you’re crying out to God for the pain to go away. Loneliness might be your unwelcome companion. Friends and family members might mock you for your faith in Jesus.
But you don’t have to worry. You don’t have to give up. You don’t have to give in. No matter what it looks like right now, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a train. It’s the Lord Jesus applauding you. Guiding you. Cheering you.
Keep looking up and walking forward; He’s with you.