2 Timothy 1:3-7
Second Timothy is one of my favorite letters in the New Testament because it is so personal and practical. Today’s text is especially meaningful to me because it reminds me of my own heritage and ordination. Verse 7, in particular, is greatly encouraging, saying, for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.
I once heard the author and missionary Elisabeth Elliot give an
address in which she suggested that emotional and mental pain is
caused by anything to which we say “oh no.” The spectrum of such
pain and stress is broad. If we wake up in the morning to discover
that our car has a flat tire, we casually say, “oh no.” If we are diag-
nosed with a disease, we respond with a much more serious, “oh no.”
If we learn of a tsunami that devastates and destroys, we cry out in
horror, “oh, my God, no.”
After our initial response to pain, our next instinct is usually to ask, “Why?” or “Why me?” Such questions rarely have a satisfactory answer. But the questions, “What shall I do next?” or “How shall I respond?” or “Where do I go from here?” find real help in Paul’s words to Timothy. God promises us the presence and strength of God’s Spirit to strengthen and fortify our spirit amidst our pain. We may not have the answers we hope for, but we have the strength and comfort we need.
God is not the origin of fear or flight. Rather, God is the origin of power and of love and of self-discipline. If we will lean into the reality of God’s presence when pain comes, then we can endure, persevere, and even thrive in the middle of it. Pain is real, but God is equally real. We need not despair.
How can you say “yes” to the reality of God’s love and presence while experiencing the reality of pain?
God, help me release whatever cowardice I feel and accept the gift of your loving presence. Amen.