Timothy was a young pastor whom Paul had left in charge of the church in Ephesus. Paul encouraged him not to let his youth hinder him in his ministry (1 Timothy 4:12). Although Paul wasn’t ashamed of being a prisoner for the sake of Christ, it seems that Timothy struggled with fear and was a little embarrassed that his mentor was in prison (2 Timothy 1:8, 12). For this reason, Paul invited Timothy to suffer with him for the sake of the gospel. For it was by God’s power that they were permitted to suffer for Christ (v. 8).
When a man known as “Papa John” learned he had terminal cancer, he and his wife, Carol, sensed God calling them to share their illness journey online. Believing that God would minister through their vulnerability, they posted their moments of joy and their sorrow and pain for two years.
When Carol wrote that her husband “went into the outstretched arms of Jesus,” hundreds of people responded, with many thanking Carol for their openness. One person remarked that hearing about dying from a Christian point of view was healthy, for “we all have to die” someday. Another said that although she’d never met the couple personally, she couldn’t express how much encouragement she’d received through their witness of trusting God.
Although Papa John sometimes felt excruciating pain, he and Carol shared their story so they could demonstrate how God upheld them. They knew their testimony would bear fruit for God, echoing what Paul wrote to Timothy when he suffered: “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).
God can use even the death of a loved one to strengthen our faith in Him (and the faith of others) through the grace we receive in Christ Jesus (v. 9). If you’re experiencing anguish and difficulty, know that He can bring comfort and peace.
Reflect & Pray
How have you experienced God’s joy even in times of deep sorrow? How do you explain this? How could you share what you learned with others?
Heavenly Father, fan into flame the gift of faith in me, that I might share with love and power my testimony of how You work in my life.