For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:12
Recently, I had the privilege of listening to a young man’s story, hearing the challenges he had faced and is now facing, and admit to thinking he was coping with more than his fair share. No simple solution to any of the complex circumstances was apparent. He asked me if God could work a miracle, and if He could, then would He? Would God step in to resolve any of the difficulties in his life, just one, not all? I had no way to answer that question. How does one presume to know the mind of God for any particular situation in the life of a particular person? God could be teaching a lesson or purging sin, redirecting his life or sanctifying the man in his suffering. I can listen and pray, but I don’t know how God will act or what He is accomplishing.
As he talked, the words Paul wrote to Timothy came to mind. More than once in life, I have prayed Paul’s word as a mantra to remind me to trust. “I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” As Paul waited for his death in Rome, he was telling Timothy that, although he would die as a criminal seditionist, the value of his life came not from that judgment but from the One Paul believed. Paul trusted Jesus with his own life, not “just” whether he lived on or was martyred, and not “merely” whether he would be received into Christ’s eternal Kingdom after death, but with the value of the life Paul had lived every day.
The world measures us in many ways. Indeed, we ourselves set standards of success and failure for our lives. But Paul told Timothy that He trusted the Lord with that. Paul’s success or failure in obedience to Christ, in glorifying Christ, in proclaiming the Gospel – everything Paul did – was entrusted to Christ to judge. Paul couldn’t see the meaning and purpose of his life, even as the end drew near. That is huge when we stop to think about it. What may seem to us like a failure or a dead-end or a pointless offering of our days may just turn out to be what Jesus values the most. Really, how can one be much more of a failure than being beheaded as a treasonous enemy of the state?
You and I do not have sufficient wisdom, vision, or love to know the value of a life, not even our own. In Christ, there is no such thing as a dead-end, no matter how hopeless or impossible a situation may appear. We do not have the perspective of eternity, and we cannot guess what God will do with the offering of ourselves that we make to Him, which is the only choice we have to make. This day, will we entrust our priorities, actions, successes, failures, reputations, losses – the worth of our very existence – to Jesus Christ? Will we let Him guard the whole of ourselves until that day when we meet Him face to face, and He shows us the true meaning and value of our lives?
In Christ –
Rev. Elizabeth Moreau