So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.
2 Timothy 1:8
Connected to Jesus
He was a pastor in a country where Christianity was illegal. So, he went by his initial “L”—not his real name—for safety. He drove a truck full of Bibles to distribute them in rural villages—illegal. He ran Sunday Schools where children were taught Jesus—illegal. He ran worship services and taught Bible studies outside the state-controlled church—illegal. Things got really bad, so he boarded a plane in search of asylum. Before the plane took off, authorities boarded and removed “L.” He wasn’t under arrest, but he also wasn’t free to go.
The apostle Paul knew what it was to suffer for sharing God’s Word. In this case, he was writing to his friend, Timothy, from prison. But telling others about Jesus was so important that no amount of suffering would stop him from doing so.
Has suffering, or the fear of it, stopped you from living and sharing your faith in Jesus? In America, the consequences of being an “outed” Christian do not include imprisonment or torture. But have you allowed the fear of what might happen keep you from telling others about Jesus?
It’s easy to do. And it’s why we need a sacrifice who suffered for our sake. A Savior who was not ashamed to be counted among the fearful so that he might rescue people like you.
Because he did, suffering for my faith becomes a chance to be connected to Jesus, to be the mirror that reflects the love of my Savior to a dying world. Just like “L,” just like Paul.
For the closing prayer today, let’s use the words of Ignatius of Antioch. Ignatius was an early Christian, so early that he learned about Jesus under the apostle John. May his prayer be our prayer as we face suffering.
“Let fire and the cross; let the crowds of wild beasts; let tearings, breakings, and dislocations of bones; let cutting off of members; let shatterings of the whole body; and let all the dreadful torments of the devil come upon me: only let me attain to Jesus Christ. Amen.”