Crises abound in this world, but as children of an omnipotent, loving Father, we can rely on His steadfast faithfulness to bring us to the other side of every storm. In this message, Dr. Stanley teaches from Paul's second letter to Timothy, explaining what it means to face struggles with love, power, and a sound mind.
Because we live in a fallen world, storms are a part of life, and they come in three different forms: physical, emotional, and spiritual. It has been like this ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. Given that there is no escape from pain and trouble, our only alternative is to adjust to them. If we don’t learn how to respond and endure, we’ll be defeated by them and forfeit the blessings God has for us. But if we’ll learn how to respond as the Lord desires, we’ll come out of our storms victorious and stronger as a result.
Paul wrote to Timothy because he was facing a storm. As a young pastor, he was dealing with various problems in the church at Ephesus and needed some encouragement and direction. Paul advised him to “kindle afresh the gift of God” that was in him (2 Tim. 1:6). In the face of adversity, Timothy was becoming discouraged, and his spiritual zeal was waning.
The same thing happens to us when our Christian life starts to grow cold. Perhaps it begins with doubts about the truths of God’s Word, when at one time we would have boldly defended them. Then we withdraw, refusing to admit anything is wrong, but in our hearts and minds we know we are drifting from the Lord. Or maybe the coldness is simply the result of troubles and heartaches that cause us to grow weak and lose our passion for God.
Some of the signs of a dwindling fire in our spiritual lives are a loss of joy and hope, not reading the Bible as much as before, and a lack of enthusiasm for prayer. In addition, we may begin listening to and relying on the advice of people who are not well-versed in Scripture.
Because Paul was very familiar with persecution, heartache, and trouble, he understood how Timothy felt. He offered him this sound advice: “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (v. 7). We have this same assurance today when we feel overwhelmed by the storms of life. But if we give in to fear, we can expect the following results: