| || |The Berean Expositor Volume 53 - Page 11 of 215 Index | Zoom | |
The apostle Paul did not tell Timothy that his life would be an easy one. He urged
him to be strong, be faithful, and to stir up the gift that was in him; not to have a spirit of
fear, and to hold fast the form of sound words. He wrote in II Tim. 1: 8:
"Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner:
but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God."
In verses 11 and 12 of the same chapter, Paul says that he was appointed a preacher,
an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. And he continues, "For which cause I also
suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed". So he was an example to Timothy,
but notice that Timothy was to share "the afflictions of the gospel according to the power
of God" (verse 8).
Whenever there is affliction, suffering, or pain, there is also strength given. When
Paul wrote to the Philippians (3: 10) and referred to the sharing of the sufferings of
Christ, and being made conformable to His death, he mentions first the "power of His
resurrection", which is the enabling power by which we endure all things.
As Timothy was to follow the example of Paul, we may remind ourselves of his own
experiences. In II Cor. 11: 22-33 we have a long list of Paul's sufferings for Christ.
There is also a shorter list in II Cor. 6: 4-10 where we note in verse 4 that Paul speaks
of "afflictions, necessities, distresses . . . . .". In II Cor. 12: 10 he says:
"Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses
for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
Although Paul suffered distresses, he was not overwhelmed by them, for he writes in
II Cor. 4: 8, 9:
"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in
despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;".
No doubt all of us experience trouble, for as we have seen in the book of Job, man is
born unto trouble. But the experience of the faithful servant who suffers for his faith,
who shares the afflictions of the gospel, and who partakes of the sufferings of Christ, is
somewhat different. We share with Christ, and that means that He is with us and
granting us help and strength by reason of which we may endure to the end. But in these
present days, circumstances are different. It is possible that we may have to endure
physical suffering as Paul did, for many suffer for their faith in Russia and other
countries. In this country we have so far experienced no physical suffering, but if we
suffer it is more likely to be mental distresses or anxiety. That is why this article is
headed "Distress". We may have been preserved so far from such pain, but who knows
what may lie ahead. Let us be prepared for any trial that may await us.
Distress may be defined as anguish or agony. It may be due to physical or mental
anguish and may be caused by poverty or misfortune, or other troubles. It is said that
distress is a painful degree of suffering (physical or mental). Unlike anxiety, distress is
caused by immediate, not future trouble. The cause is real and not imaginary. Thus,