Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God Will Help You Endure

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Download "How to Endure Suffering."

Leslie Basham: Do you feel a little overwhelmed today? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth understands.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I perpetually feel like such a weak, inadequate, unable servant. When I cry out, “Help,” over and over and over again, God supernaturally infuses His grace into my emptiness, my weakness, and my need.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of The Quiet Place, for Thursday, June 13, 2019.

We're in the middle of a series called, "Enduring Life's Hardships." It's part of our theme this month as we talk about perseverance. As we talk about endurance, there’s good news. You don’t have to endure all on your own. God has given you resources that will help you. Here’s Nancy to explain.

Nancy: Just before we started this session, one of our ladies here, who is eighty years young, came to me and said, “I’ve noticed that as you climb uphill—as you go higher and higher and higher, the air gets thinner.”

She said, “You would think that by the time you’re my age, I would have endured everything there is to endure, and that it would get easier.”

She was talking about how there are challenges at this season of life that are different from the challenges she had at an earlier season of life.

So for those of you who are not quite eighty yet, cheer up! The air is going to get thinner! If you’re feeling very strong and capable of running the race right now, remember that there will come times when you feel winded or out of breath. There will be times when you feel, “I just really need help to keep on going.”

That is what we want to talk about today—how to endure.

There’s a lot in the Scripture about endurance, and we’re touching on it in this series. Particularly, we will be focusing on the things that Paul said to Timothy, his young protégé, his young disciple, his son in the faith.

In the book of 2 Timothy, we find insights and principles and perspectives related to suffering. The apostle Paul certainly had a life-message in suffering and hardship. He knew what it was. This was not theory he was writing about.

I first gave a message on God’s perspective on suffering when I was probably twenty-one years old, and I go back and I look at some of those notes and I think, The things I said then were true then, and they’re still true now, but I could teach those things today so different than when I was twenty-one.

But God has made provision for us through His Word, and we’re going to talk today about some of the resources that God has given us.

Paul says to Timothy, “Expect to suffer. You can’t avoid it. Expect it. You need it. It will happen, even if you’re godly, even if you’re living a Spirit-filled life. There will be hardship. There will be suffering.”

The air will get very thin at points. You’ll get to points in that marathon where you will think, I cannot make it to the next bend. So what do you do? You put one foot in front of the next and you keep going—you endure.

But the question is, how do we endure? How do we keep going? I’m pointing out in this series ten perspectives, or ten principles, from the book of 2 Timothy about how to endure.

Today we come to principle number seven—insight number seven—which is remember the resources God has given you. Remember the resources God has given you for this race, and use them. Rely on them. Don’t overlook them. Don’t neglect them. If you neglect any of the resources God has given you, you will not have what you need for the race.

I want to point out five resources that I find in the book of 2 Timothy that are much needed and wonderful, adequate provisions for enduing hardship and suffering.

The first one of those five is: The grace of God. If we didn’t have anything other than the grace of God, we would have what we need to stay faithful in the race.

Four times in 2 Timothy, Paul references the grace of God, starting in verse 2 of the first chapter: “To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Where does grace come from? From God. It’s supernatural. It’s God’s ability given to meet our inability. It’s God’s strength given to meet our weakness.

We give God our inadequacy, our weakness, our inability to deal with pressure, and God gives us His strength, His grace, and the ability and power to do what God wants us to do—to put down the next foot, to get to the next bend, to get around the next bend, and to keep going.

Paul says in chapter 2, verse 1 to Timothy, “Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” God's grace infuses us with strength that we do not have apart from His grace. I cannot tell you how many times in my life I have started to do a conference or a recording session or been working on a book or been dealing with a relational issue or a staffing issue or a dilemma in our ministry or my personal life and I have said, "Lord, I can't do this! I don't have the wisdom. I don't know how to handle this. I don't have the strength. I don't have the capacity. I don't have the ability to do this."

I feel perpetually like a weak, inadequate, unable servant. And when I cry out to the Lord, "Help! I can't do this," over and over and over and over again—I couldn't count the times—God supernaturally infuses His grace into my emptiness, my weakness, and my need.

Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. God’s grace is not just that which saves us from sin . . . I think some people think, I got God's grace when I was saved, now what do I need it for? I need it for everything! You need it for everything.

As you look back on your life, you have a testimony, if you've been a Christian for more than, like, three hours. You've got a testimony of God's grace in your life. It's a  a gift. You can’t merit it. You can’t earn it. You don’t deserve it. You can’t work for it. It’s God’s provision to meet my need, in order to face hardship and suffering. There’s grace for that. Be strengthened by it.

Remember that God’s grace is sufficient. God’s grace is sufficient to strengthen you and help you endure that hardship that seems so impossible.

Paul closes the book in the very end of chapter 4, verse 22, by saying, “Grace be with you.” It’s interesting there—the “you” is plural. He’s been writing to Timothy, but he says at the very end, “Grace be with you all.” Or as they say in this part of the country, “Ya’ll.”

“Grace be with you all.” Who is the “all” in this passage? It’s not only Timothy, but it’s for anyone else who would read this epistle. The epistle, the letter from Paul in the Mamartine Prison would have been passed around, shared, and read.

We’re reading it today. So who is Paul talking about? Ya’ll. Us. “Grace be with you all.” All sufficient grace, for all circumstances, for all seasons of life, for all children of God.

By the way, those were probably the last inspired written words of the apostle Paul. Think about it. Think about where he was, and think about what he wanted to leave with us—grace. God’s grace be with you all.

It’s a present grace—a grace that we find available each step of the way. You might think, I don’t know how I’ll handle this situation three years from now. You don’t need grace for three years from now, now. All you need now is grace for now.

God will give you grace to take this step, and then whatever God knows you need three years from now, God will give you grace in that present moment. That’s a resource God has given you—the grace of God.

Then there is: The gift of God. Paul says in chapter 1, verse 6, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”

The gift of God. That’s the God-given ability to do whatever God has called you to do. God has not called you to do anything that He will not give you the gifting and the ability to do.

I'll tell you the truth. I often feel that God has called me to do something . . . that is, this ministry, writing, speaking, radio . . . I often feel that I am not gifted to do this. But I look at God's Word and realize that He has given me the divine, supernatural enabling—not the natural talents and abilities, but the supernatural gifting—to do whatever it is that He has called me to do. It's His gift. It's His ability.

The spiritual gift that He has given each of us serves the Body of Christ. But you have to keep those gifts alive. Fan them into flame. Keep it in full flame. Keep them stirred up. If you don’t use those gifts that God has given you, they will fall into disuse, and you won’t have what you need when you come against hardship and suffering.

Paul goes on to say in verse 7, just after talking about that gift of God, he says, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1). That’s something God has given you. That’s a gift of God.

I think about how many times when we find ourselves in a difficult marriage, or a difficult place in life: financially, physically, in our work, in ministry—how many times we give into cowering, to fear, to whining, to moaning, and Paul says that’s not the gift of God.

God didn’t give you a spirit of fear. That’s not from God. What God did give you is a spirit of power and love and self-control—a sound mind.

This happens to so many of us, as women, when we get into to a tail-spin, and I’ve been there so many times myself. I know what it’s like when you have gotten yourself into a tizzy about how hard things are and what you’re having to deal with, and you get yourself so worked up you can’t think straight.

That’s not from God. God has given us the gift of a sound mind—a mind governed by the Word of God; a mind governed by the Spirit of God; a mind that can think wisely, correctly, and soundly in the midst of pressure—even in a Mamartine Prison; buried in the bowels of the earth, as Paul was when he was writing this.

Not a spirit of fear. Receive and use the gift of God. The grace of God. The gift of God. The power of God. That's another resource God has given us. Chapter 1, verse 8: “Share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God.” 

By the power of God—that’s how you endure—by God’s power. Sometimes I think we just try to work up our own strength, to work up our own energy, to work up our own whatever: “I’ll climb this hill if it kills me.”

Paul says, “That’s not the way to live this life. That’s not the way to run this race. Suffer by the power of God. It’s His power.” That word in the original language is dunamis. It’s the word from which we get our word dynamite.

“The inherent power of God.” It means, “that which makes you able, that which makes you capable, that which can overcome any force.” Suffer by the power of God. It’s His power that keeps us in the midst of hardship and suffering—not ours.

We are weak, but He is strong. We’re big on saying the “I am weak” part, but we don’t get to the rest—“but Lord, you are strong.”

“It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). God’s power. “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” Ephesians 6:10.

The grace of God, the gift of God, the power of God—here’s another resource: The indwelling Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit. Paul says in chapter 1:14, “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” 

Now, if Paul just said, “Guard the good deposit entrusted to you,” I’d be thinking, Oh, I’ve got to do this. But Paul says, “Do it by the Holy Spirit who dwells within you.” It’s His life, His power, His strength, His enabling. It’s Christ in you—the hope of glory. That’s a resource you have as you face suffering and hardship.

Then the Word of God. Over and over and over again in at least five times in the book of 2 Timothy, Paul talks about the Word of God being a resource to Timothy who is living in difficult times.

“But the Word of God will help you know what to do” (paraphrase). Paul says in chapter 2:7, “Think over what I say.” Remember what Paul said is inspired—it’s the Word of God.

“Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”  You say, “There’s nothing in the Bible that addresses my situation.” Paul says, “Think over what you read in God’s Word, and God will give you understanding in everything—in every issue.”

God may not name your particular issue in His Word, but God will give you wisdom and understanding about how to deal with every issue, as you think over these things.

Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Do your best [be diligent] to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”

You may be living in a situation where you are faced daily with those who oppose the Word of God. The best defense and offense against error in those who oppose the truth is the truth.

Paul says, “Rightly handle the Word of truth. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit.” That’s what God uses, and in that situation, you don’t have to ram it down people’s throats.

You can do it gently. You can do it graciously, but just keep using the Word of God. Now, handle it rightly. Don’t use it to defend your position if your position’s not a biblical one. Use it rightly, and you will have no need to be ashamed if you do.

Paul goes on in chapter three and in chapter four. You can read some of these verses for yourself. He talks about “the sacred writing—the Scripture that is profitable for every area in our lives” (3:16 paraphrase).

He says be faithful in the ministering of the Word. What will the Word of God do for you as you face suffering and hardship? It will do two things: one, in your own life, it will keep you grounded. It will give you perspective. It will give you understanding and wisdom. But it will also be the weapon that you need to minister to the lives of others.

Don’t just be sharing with others your own opinions or your own experience. There is power in the Word of God.

As you minister to other people who have to endure hardship, use the Word of God. As you live with people who are opponents of the truth, use the Word of God in a spirit of meekness and gentleness—use the power of the Word of God.

Remember the resources God has given you. Rely on them and use them. They will be what you need.

Now let me give you an eighth perspective or insight from the book of 2 Timothy about how to endure hardship and suffering: Remember that you're not alone.

I want to start this one today, and we’ll pick up with it in the next session. Remember that you’re not alone, first because you have the presence of Christ, the presence of God wherever you are.

In the Mamartine Prison, Paul had the presence of Christ. “Timothy,” being a pastor in Ephesus, Paul says, “God will be with you.” I’m telling you, all the way through the Scripture, the resource that God gave to His struggling, scared, suffering servants was this promise: “I will be with you.”

It’s as if God is saying, “If I’m with you, you don’t need anything else. You’ve got everything you need.” Remember that you are not alone. God is with you.

Paul says in chapter 4:16–17, “At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me.”

When you have no one and nothing else to cling to, no one to help you, no one to support you, no human support or help in your darkest, most desperate, most alone moments, as far as you can tell—God Himself will stand by you.

Think about it, if you had a choice, would you rather have some flawed, frail, finite human being, or would you rather have the Almighty Jehovah God standing by you? What a body guard. What a protection. What a source of help! He will strengthen you. He will ensure that His purposes are fulfilled.

The Lord Jesus knew what it was to be deserted; to be left alone. He said to His disciples in John chapter 16, “Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me” (v. 32).

You are not alone. The Father is with you if you are a child of God, and the presence of Christ will go with you into the fire even as Christ Himself went into the fire with those three Hebrew young men.

There was a fourth in there—the Son of Man, and it’s His presence that can protect you from fear, from danger, from disaster, and that will keep your heart and your mind stable as you face suffering and hardship.

I was reading within the last week, in my personal quiet time, in the book of Jeremiah chapter 1, and I was thinking, In some ways, I really relate to this guy, Jeremiah, although he was such a faithful prophet. 

I look at him in chapter 1. Jeremiah was a prophet, just minding his own business, doing his job, and God comes and points him out and says, “I have appointed you to be a prophet to the nations” (v. 5).

Can you picture Jeremiah saying (this is really paraphrasing), “I didn’t sign up for that job. Prophet to the nations? Me? I’m just a priest. I’m a priest! There are many priests, and I am just one of many. I am just a priest of the Jews.”

But God said, “I have a different purpose for your life, a broader purpose.”

Jeremiah says, “I’m young. I don’t know what to say.”

God said, “Don’t say, ‘I’m young.’ I’ve appointed you. I choose who I appoint. I will give you words. You will go where I send you” (vv. 6–8 paraphrase).

I’m not meaning any disrespect here, but I’m just saying—we point out to God our weakness and our inadequacy. God says, “This isn’t about you. This is about my strength.”

God says in verse 18, “Don’t be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you. They will fight against you [expect suffering], but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you” (vv. 18–19 paraphrased). 

Remember that you’re not alone. God goes with you into that fire. Hebrews 11 says that “Moses endured as seeing him who is invisible” (v. 27 paraphrase). God was there.

Samuel Rutherford, a seventeenth century Scottish theologian who was banished for his faith said, “Jesus Christ came into my cell yesterday, and every stone shone like a jewel.” That is the transforming power of the presence of Christ!

David Livingstone, one of my long-time heroes since I was a little girl, was a nineteenth century missionary statesman to Africa. He said, “I go through the jungles of Africa, and Jesus is by my side.”

I don’t know what your jungle is. I don’t know about your fiery furnace. I don’t know what your Mamartine Prison is, but you are not alone. Jesus goes with you.

As Joni Eareckson Tada says in her book, When God Weeps, “You can endure most anything, even hours sitting vigil by a sick bed, if you know God is sitting next to you.”

Remember the presence of Christ. You are not alone.

Oh Father, we call out to You in this moment. We recognize that you are here in this moment. We are not alone. I am not alone when I am sitting there in my study and when I am in life's circumstances that are bigger than I am. There's not a woman in this room who is a child of God who is ever alone in every circumstance, in any marriage, in any work situation, in any relational issue. We are not alone. You go with us. And for that we give You thanks. In Jesus name, amen.

Leslie: If you’re in the middle of a trial, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been encouraging you, reminding you that you’re not alone. The Lord is with you.

We’ve been talking all this month about perseverance, and last week we looked at the life of Elisabeth Elliot as one example. She endured great tragedy and loss in her lifetime. But often said that through her suffering she gained a greater assurance of God’s love. This subject is the message of her recently published book, Suffering Is Never for Nothing. This book contains never-before-published material by the late Elisabeth Elliot on suffering, a subject she knew about firsthand. This book will spur you on to run your race with endurance.

You can get a copy of Elisabeth’s book by supporting the ministry of Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. We’ll send you Suffering Is Never for Nothing when you go online with your gift. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1-800-569–5959. Ask for Elisabeth’s book on suffering. 

If you’re going through a trial, think about this. Maybe you’re being prepared to encourage others in a similar trial. Tomorrow, Nancy will show how your endurance could affect others. Please be back, for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants you to know that no matter what you're going through, Jesus is with you. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version. 

 

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