Convincing. It takes a lot in this day and age to convince us. Maybe this is because there are so many things in this world that are not actually real. There are so many illusions out there. We see this in our own lives. People that seem real and genuine, but then burn us. Feel good stories that end up being staged. Pictures are filtered and edited. And so on and so forth. With so many illusions out there, it’s difficult to believe in anything, and to not have doubts. Today though, I want to talk to us about how we can truly be convinced of the reality of the gospel through Jesus Christ.
I am truly in a season of doubts. Doubts about literally everything. Doubts about my gifts and talents. My worth. My hope. Even my faith in Jesus has come under fire. All these doubts and questions have produced crazy anxiety.
The last several days I have felt the anxiety and doubts just overwhelming me. They have pounded on me. So many questions and so many thoughts just flooding my mind. How can I sit in church and worship Jesus when I feel so far from Him? I’m practicing these habits of grace, but nothing is changing. Or if anything is changing then it’s not changing fast enough. You are a fraud. You are a loser. You have no control and you are fading fast. Where are you God? Why have you left me to my anxieties? My cravings? My doubts? I don’t “feel” you. I don’t “see” you. These were the thoughts and questions that just bombarded me.
It left me depressed. So depressed that I just stared into empty space for most of my day. Wishing that I could just be numb to it all. Wishing that something would change. Someone would show up. I just couldn’t take it. To make matters worse, my therapist canceled our session for this afternoon. I was just feeling pretty down and lost.
Eventually though, as it usually does, my anxiety and depression passed, and I was able to think clearly again. I had been messaging with a friend, and they really encouraged me to remember that God is my helper, and that my therapist wasn’t going to solve my problems. As I arrived home this evening, a verse popped in my head that backed up that sentiment.
“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” (2 Timothy 1:12).
In 2 Timothy, the Apostle Paul is penning his final letter. He writes from a jail cell to a young believer named Timothy to encourage him as a spiritual son. He has seen Timothy’s faith in Jesus (a faith that was passed onto him by his faithful mother and grandmother, Eunice and Lois), and he is encouraging him to “fan into flame the gift of God” (6). In a sense, Paul is now passing on the mantle to his young men-tee.
Paul continued in chapter one to share with Timothy that suffering would accompany being a believer, but that he was to not be ashamed of him nor Jesus, for the Lord had not given him a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and self control (7). This gospel was powerful, and it was by grace that he and Timothy were partaking in it, and being called to be messengers of it. It was this reality that Paul had experienced many times throughout his trials, and currently as he sat behind the bars of this jail cell as he penned this very letter. Paul was glad to suffer for the sake of the gospel. He knew whence he had been called, and therefore, he was not ashamed to suffer for the sake of God’s truth.
Now we come back to our main verse. It’s as if Paul leans in close to Timothy at this point and says “if you don’t get anything else I’m saying in this letter, get this. This will change things for you. This is the main point.” He writes“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” (2 Timothy 1:12).
While others would look at Paul’s situation and say your God has abandoned you, Paul was convinced. He knew the God who had met him on the road to Damascus, and who had been with him everyday since. In shipwrecks. In jail cells. In floggings. In his sufferings. He knew he had never been alone. And therefore he was convinced. He was convinced that not only had God kept him until the end, but also that He would do the same with Timothy.
So many times, I forget. I forget what I know. What I deep down know. Outside of feelings. And stress. And heartache. And confusion. Outside of my doubts. Outside of my questions. What I deep down know is this, that God loves me, and is for me. I have known that since God rescued me January 6th, 2012. I have known that since I saw Him change my life in front of my eyes. As I was brought in to His kingdom as a son. This wretched dirty prodigal who ran and ran and ran could never outrun the loving arms of His Father. I have known this since he changed everything about me. The brightness of my eyes. The words from my mouth. The posture of my back. The joy and peace in my life. I have known all this.
And I’m convinced. I’m convinced that outside of anything I do, He will bring me through this life, faithful, holy, and pleasing to His sight. Yes, I know, this doesn’t mean we can sit around and do nothing. But at the end of the day, I can trust, whole heartedly that God has a hold of me. That He will never let me go. Even in the seasons of doubts and questions. Even in my failures and faults. Even in my groaning and pain. Even in the times where I am distant. He will always be there. I can be convinced of this.
I like that this verse doesn’t say that I am convinced that myself, or my Christian counselor, or my parents, or my friends, or my pastor, or my knowledge, or my dreams, or my brother, or my skills can guard what has been entrusted to me. No, it says I am convinced that GOD IS ABLE to guard what has been entrusted to me. HE IS ABLE, not me. HE IS ABLE to give me understanding in the confusion and chaos, not my Christian counselor. HE IS ABLE to provide me with love that I need, not a relationship or a family or future family. HE IS ABLE to provide me with hope and peace, not my job, or my skills, or my dreams.
Paul’s encouragement to Timothy was that He had lived this. He had experienced this. His reality of God’s holding Him was trustworthy. That Timothy could lean into, onto Jesus. Fully. He was good. He was loving. He would be with Him wherever He would go. And He would keep Timothy until the end. No matter what. No matter where. No matter how. He would keep Him until the end.
The hardest part for me, in this season of life, is to believe that. To believe by faith that not only do I know Jesus, and that He knows me, but also that what I have in Jesus is stable. It’s stable and concrete outside of my doubts, questions, concerns, anger, and frustrations. That what I have cannot be taken from me, or that I cannot lose it. That’s such a difficult thing for me to fathom.
Tonight my prayer for my own life is that I would trust that. That I would believe that. That I would have faith in that! That reality. That understanding. That truth. Because if I could, if I could know, and have faith that I’m known, and held, and kept by Jesus, that would change everything. It would change the way I wake up in the morning. It would change my outlook on the day. It would change my actions. It would change my thoughts. It would change literally everything. So my prayer tonight is that you, Father God, would help me to know, trust, and believe that this reality that Paul, Timothy, and so many others have lived and walked in, is a reality I can walk and trust in as well.
May I be convinced that I know whom I have believed, and that whom I have believed in, will bring me through faithfully to the end.