You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 2 Timothy 3:10-11 (NIV).
Paul always provided full disclosure and full credit to God in his letters. It’s one of the things that, 2000 years later, still gives him credibility. Paul genuinely suffered at the hands of unbelievers, Jews, Romans and even friends; read 2 Corinthians 11:23-27.
Do you and I really suffer? I mean, REALLY suffer. Paul was tortured on the command of his fellow Jews. Paul was beaten and flogged (and think “Passion of the Christ” type of flogging, not just a few lashes with a bullwhip). Everyone who had cherished him in his life prior to conversion had turned on him. Everything he owned was gone. He who was used to being admired and adored was now rejected and scored. He had been imprisoned, stoned, left for dead, shipwrecked, and admonished for saying and doing the right things.
Has that ever happened to you or me? Probably not, at least not in those ways. Yet there are places in our world today where that happens, where people are tortured and murdered for believing in Jesus.
The Lord rescues all of us. He has rescued you and I because we live in relative comfort, away from such terrors. He rescues those who are tortured and murdered by staying with them and welcoming them home after these things have ended.
Granted, in this verse, Paul was talking about how God had physically rescued him from his own terrors; how Paul had physically survived them and stayed faithful to Jesus. Yet the bigger lesson comes in remembering that Jesus allowed Paul to endure those trials and yet He stayed with Paul during them. Christ endured with him; Christ suffered again with him; Christ gave Paul the strength to endure and forgive and preach Him crucified despite what was happening.
That bigger lesson matters most because it’s also what Christ does for us today. He speaks through your conscience, through your experiences, through things around you, in your heart. When you are down, His voice is the encouragement you hear at just the right moment. When you’re in need, His voice comes through the kindness of a friend or stranger. When you’re questioning, His voice hears the questions and stays true in its response, not leading you further into despair or loneliness. Jesus gives us answers, sometimes through more questions, but always in His truth.
Centuries after Paul wrote his words, he and they still reverberate in our lives, not because of Paul but because he, in full disclosure, always pointed to Jesus.
For further reading: Acts 13:14, 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, Romans 15:31, Psalm 34:19, 2 Timothy 3:12.
Jesus, my rescuing Savior, You rescue me every day. You are true and kind and strong.