There is nothing like sitting and listening to the seasoned (senior) persons in my community. They seem to have stories for every situation. They have stories that will make you laugh as well as make you cry. Stories of struggles and stories of triumph. Stories that will make you think and stories that will leave you wondering, Did I catch their point? We share our heritage and our faith through stories.
In this letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul instructs Timothy. While Paul shares words of direction, he begins to tell a story of faith and trust in the Lord. Paul tells of how earlier most of his friends had deserted him before the judge, though it seems clear that Paul had expected his friends to support him through this trying season.
I can only imagine how this brief snippet of the story of Paul relates to Timothy, whom Paul entrusts to continue his mantle and ministry. With little to no help, I’m sure that Timothy feels overwhelmed and underqualified. But no doubt Paul’s words to Timothy give him great encouragement: Paul writes, “But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength.” What a blessed assurance! What a story of faith to know that even when the odds are against us, the Lord will show up and give us strength.
Today, allow the story of Paul to encourage you. Whether in an interview, a doctor’s visit, a phone call, or a meeting: If you feel alone, know that the Lord is with you.
Holy God, I thank you for the stories from those who have walked with you. Thank you for their witness to your unfailing love and grace. In times of my despair, help me to know that you are near to me too. Amen.
The theme in the readings from the Hebrew scriptures is abundance. Joel speaks of the time of plenty in the land of Israel. This abundance is not only physical, for it includes a generous outpouring of the Spirit of God. The psalmist sings of abundant rains that allows the land to flourish. The hills, meadows, and valleys all sing praise to God. Second Timothy 4 contains the scriptural passage that brings us closest to the death of Paul. The apostle has been abandoned by many, but the Lord stands by him as he faces his likely imminent death. In the Gospel, Jesus warns us about the dangers of pride. The Pharisee in the parable thinks his personal goodness brings favor with God, but God desires a humble heart.
Read Joel 2:23-32. How has rain been a sign of God’s impending provision in your life?
Read Psalm 65. How has God’s forgiveness freed you to participate in creation’s joy?
Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18. When has God strengthened you in the face of evil?
Read Luke 18:9-14. What aspect of your life do you need to approach with renewed humility?
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