2 Timothy 1:12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.
Genuinely knowing Christ will get you through anything. Paul went through a lot from the point God knocked him off his horse all the way until he was finally martyred, but by his own testimony, it was worth it. (Philippians 3:10-11, 2 Corinthians 4:17) Our problem today is that too many people aren’t convinced it’s worth it. We are too prone to take what we see as the “easy way out,” forgetting Jesus’ warning about the broad and narrow ways. (Matthew 7:13-14) We want the one cookie now instead of the two cookies later, as is demonstrated in the famous psychological experiment with little children. (They are left in a room by themselves with a cookie in front of them, told that if they wait to eat it until the adult returns, they will get two cookies. Few children pass the test!) Satan knows this well, and so does all he can to tempt us with immediate gratification. Anything will do, even essentially good things, so long as we are distracted from listening to and obeying God. We really don’t know what temptations Paul faced along the way, other than the over-all temptation to give it up and stop doing stuff that got him attacked all the time. However, we do know his response, and that is recorded here. I have always loved the hymn that uses the last part of this verse verbatim as its chorus. As that hymn declares, there’s a lot we don’t know, but if we know our Savior, all the other stuff doesn’t really matter.
I encounter this in various ways all the time. I am somewhat amused that, after having been warned repeatedly about the need for patient endurance, I’ve just been hit with doctor’s orders not to talk for a couple of weeks. I have a polyp on one of my vocal cords, and by God’s grace a member of the national team studying exactly that problem is the head of the ENT Department at the National Medical Center in town. That team has found through extensive research that for small polyps, surgery can often be avoided with an intensive rest schedule, and I just started a 2-week trial of that. When my whole life revolves around talking and singing, that is a challenge indeed! Whispering actually puts more stress on the vocal cords than normal speech, so I’m to talk in a low voice only when necessary. I have a class at the nursing school tomorrow, and am on strict orders to use a microphone. Since I teach vocal projection to speech therapists, that is a blow indeed! Last night it was decided that this coming Sunday Cathy will speak in English and one of our members will interpret into Japanese. And in it all, I can’t sing! My pride is demolished and my faith tested, and those are both very good things. Thankfully, I indeed know whom I have believed, and He’s the same Lord Paul knew and followed. I realize very well that this isn’t even worthy to be called suffering, compared to what others – even including my wife – go through, so I am to rejoice at God’s grace in allowing me this experience, knowing that it will turn out not just for my blessing but for His glory.
Father, thank You indeed for Your grace toward me. I ask for wisdom to do what I should, and nothing else. You know what a talker I am. You even had to tell me to shut up one time! I pray that as we go have lunch with another missionary couple today that I would be able to control myself, and that I would indeed grow in learning to listen, as I am sure is one of Your purposes in this. May I be shaped more and more into the useful tool that You desire, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!