Summary: This sermons looks at Paul’s response to being in prison. How do we respond to adversity ?
Responding To Adversity
We may not be able to control much of the adversities that we encounter in life, but we may be able to control our response by putting into practice what Paul did. Being in the ministry for over 25 years now has allowed me to see people with all kinds of problems, and all kinds of responses. I have seen people become negative, and bitter in response to adversity. I have seen people point fingers of blame after encountering trouble........but tonight let me tell you that I have been blessed, and inspired by so many people by observing their response to adversity.
This past week I had a funeral of a friend in Griffin. During the visitation at the funeral home, I ran into a couple that I had not seen in a couple of years. They were there to show their respect, and to comfort the grieving family. To see this couple, and the warm glow about them, one would never know the adversity that they’ve encountered the last few years.
Over 5 years ago the lady was diagnosed with brain cancer. She had a large tumor on her brain which was malignant, and the doctors gave the couple little hope. Surgery was very risky, and could lead to serious complications, and even if the cancer was successful they gave little hope. But now years after the surgery, and after many trips to a cancer hospital in Texas for chemo and radiation, the couple feels blessed for the extra time that they’ve had together. They are still fighting a battle, but they have a joy about them which is unmistakable. In speaking to them the other night, this is their words...."The Lord has been gracious to us" Isn’t that a blessing ? I am amazed at people in those circumstances with that kind of attitude. And I know that it comes from knowing the Lord, and having a proper relationship with him, and looking at things through spiritual eyes.
Paul in his message to Timothy shows us how he responds to adversity. In spite of being in prison, and facing death, he keeps the right kind of attitude. He does not allow himself to be angry and bitter, but uses his position, and his problems as a opportunity to encourage Timothy. Let’s look tonight at Paul’s thoughts during adversity.
I. He Is Challenged By His Suffering !
V11. Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
a. His calling
Paul knew that his calling was from God. It was not according to wroks, but according to his own purpose and grace.
b. His chains
Paul is presently in chains. He is in bonds because of his calling, and his obedience to preach the gospel. Yet in spite of his present condition, he will not be discouraged nor detoured from what God has ordained, and intructed him to do.
"I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
I was made weak, that I might learn to humbly obey…
I asked for health that I might do great things.
I was given infirmity that might do better things…
I asked for riches that I might be happy,
I was given poverty that I might be wise…
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of others.
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God…
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things…
I got nothing I asked for, but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among men, most richly blessed!
c. His commitment.
Paul says........"I am not ashamed" Remember this was a phrase spoken to the church at Rome as well. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. And even his prison, he is not ashamed, but proud to be called of God to preach the gospel. Are we ashamed of the gospel of Christ ? When adversity comes, when things are going sour, do we still have confidence in Christ ? It is important that we remain committed as believers to witnessing in times of adversity. That may be time when unbelievers are watching us the most to see if we are genuine in what we believe or if we are just fair weather Christians.
As believers, may God give us the grace to respond to adversity and allow it to challenge us to a closer walk with God, and use even our adversity as a avenue of sharing the gospel of Christ !