Day 11

Be Strong in Grace

from the 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus reading plan

2 Timothy 2:1-13, Romans 6:5-10, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 2:1-13, Romans 6:5-10, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

Two weeks into my first year teaching history at a private school in Nashville, the Latin teacher stopped at my door. He was tall and round about the middle, with short hair, deep eyes and a soft-spoken voice that carried kindness on every syllable. His oldest daughter was in my class, and when he asked if I wanted to share lunch at the picnic tables, I hesitated. Life had taught me to suspect older men, to assume their intentions were nefarious. But Ben Ellis just wanted to share turkey sandwiches and talk about history. Trying my hand at trust, I said yes.

Over the next year, Ben made a habit of stopping at my door, checking in, dropping off history resources and pep talks in equal measure. His wife and five children became regulars at our dinner table; my husband and I at theirs. Ben was one of the first people to encourage me in my writing, buying a copy of the crappy short story I wrote about birds and pretending not to notice the typos.

And then everything changed. Esophageal cancer invaded his body. Soon, he was no longer round about the middle. Soon, he was no longer teaching.

During his months of treatment—even up until the last days on earth—Ben enjoyed singing hymns, in particular a call-and-response song that goes like this:

I am bound, (I am bound)
I am bound, (I am bound)
I am bound for the Promised Land.

It was true of him, and it is no less true of me. We are bound for another place. But it’s important to remember that the word “bound” has many different meanings.

Of course, “bound” can mean you are headed somewhere, and we are headed for eternity with God. Jesus promises that He is preparing a place for us, so that we can be with Him forever in that place. We can be confident in that promise because Jesus’ resurrection was not a fairy-tale. It was a historical event verified by more than 500 witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:6). Because Jesus destroyed death, death no longer determines our final destination.

Bound can also mean shackled, as in, bound in chains. On earth, we are certainly entangled with suffering. Paul tells Timothy not to shy away from that truth. He reminds Timothy that our temporary struggle is like that of a soldier, an athlete, or a farmer—people who sacrifice willingly, trusting that their efforts will reap a later reward. But as Christians, our reward is not a prize or a harvest. Our reward is not a change in our circumstances, or the healing of our cancers. Our reward is the person of Jesus Christ. We are bound, yes, but we are bound for something. We are bound for Him.

Paul was bound for the Promised Land too. He was literally shackled—his only connection to the outside world, his pen. And he proclaimed the gospel loudly, disregarding that his message almost certainly would lead to his execution.

But in all the ways we are bound, God is not bound. While we are moving toward heaven, He is unhindered by time and space. While we are limited by our lack of resources, depleted energy, and grief at the suffering all around us, He does not grow weary. His Word is at work in the world—everywhere, always. And that is great news.

As I consider the limitations on my life, the suffering I wish was over, I cling to God’s promise. Though I am weak, He is strong. Though I am bound, He is already here.


Claire Gibson is a writer whose work has been featured in publications including The Washington Post and Entrepreneur Magazine among many others. An Army kid who grew up at West Point, New York, Claire is currently growing roots in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Patrick, their son, Sam, and their dog, Winnie. Her debut novel, Beyond the Point, will be published next year.

Post Comments (38)

38 thoughts on "Be Strong in Grace"

  1. Kristin WemyssKremer says:

    Shelby, that’s a lot. Im so sorry that you all’s are so strained financially, emotionally, and physically. The first thing to remember is just what this study said — God’s faithfulness is not depended upon your own (verse 13). We still have Grace. Pray for wisdom and clarity. Remember that 100% is more than enough. Sometimes things take longer to get through than we think they should, but God is working in you during that time.

    Becoming debt free is great! Just take your time. And in that, may both you and your husband remember that your jobs aren’t only about monetary reaping, but there are other rewards! (Encourage him that his sacrifice of time, money, and safety are even better rewards than financially — thank him for his service for us!)

    And, seek to spend quality time with women at your church. Seek out a Bible study to help you spiritually & socially. This will encourage the Proverbs 31 woman in you! We are not called to be perfect, but to strive to serve the Lord and others in the ways (maybe not even all the ways) she does! And let this be your encouragement as a wife, too. Pray for your husband and encourage him to seek the Lord daily (& also find a community of strong Christian men), but remember that it’s by modeling that we encourage best, and above all that it’s the Lord’s job to work in others’ hearts.

    I will be praying for your home, Shelby!

  2. Jen Nohrenberg says:

    Dang. This is crazy. Thank you! We are not bound for a healing of our cancers but bound for Jesus Christ himself.

    1. Apryl Lopes says:

      So beautiful to know that being bound in Christ is the only place true freedom exists. We we try to struggle against Him is when we fine real chains and prison. That you Jesus for setting us free and providing Your peace in ever circumstance!

  3. Nina O’Keefe says:

    Kailee – please pursue medical help, if you can get it. In the words of the pre-flight safety briefing: secure your own oxygen mask before helping others. Post-partum depression can last up to a year after giving birth, but it’s treatable and SO common. I had it too. I am sending prayers your way.

  4. Shelby says:

    Today I write, I write questioning so much in this civilian life. I tend to let finances overrun my mind, work amounts of overtime to help become ‘Dave Ramsey’ style of debt free. It wrecks havoc with my husband sometimes as I make more than he does and he feels lesser of a provider in the home. He tends to make statements as I have had my faith much much longer than his, as his started when we got together about 3yrs ago. I try to bible study every day and read Christian marriage books to help guide me as the marriage I learned growing up was one of destruction, I try to tell my husband that I want to be a better person and look towards the Bible as God was my only true reliable family for years after I was told to leave my childhood family halfway during senior year of high school. I try to live my life sprinkling Jesus’ glory and God’s grace, as an ER nurse.

    I guess my questions are overcome by worry, anxiety, and lack of peace in my life. Which makes me feel like I’m doing this Christian thing poorly. Bills=death of motivation as they suck everything out of your pocket to even think of a vacation. Overtime=death of personal life as I’m tired all the time but helps pay bills off. I think I put too much on my plate. I need motherly guidance. How did you overcome financial worry? How do you combat overtime? How do you be a good wife when the Proverbs 31 woman seems unattainable? How do you go to church when you either work every Saturday night making the 11am service part of your sleep time as you work 6p-630a or too tired to wake up? How do you have a functioning household as you work 12hr night shifts(4 nights a weeks at random) while your husband works 24hr shifts at a firehouse (9-12days a month usually every other day) with no children?

    1. Sydni says:

      Hey girl,
      I think you are looking in the wrong direction. When you wrote bills=death of motivation as they suck everything out of your pocket to even think of a vacation. That made me so sad. God doesn’t intend for us to live in this life worried about finances. You need to really truly just start praying out loud that you’re giving that to God. Try to start trusting him. Don’t let your soul be weary God provides rest for the weary, he provides peace to the worry and anxiety and he loves you– which means he wants you to live a life “worthy of your calling”(I think that’s in Ephesians 4)! He is calling you to awesome things and he will bless you in your finances and relationship if you start praying him into it and really trusting that he is holding you guys. Make God your priority, not money, not your husband, not work– those all come in 2. God is #1 you gotta allow him to be #1 because he wants to be there but he won’t be there if you put other things in front of him.
      God’s holding you and I’ll be praying for you:)

    2. Beth says:

      Shelby, many times the cares of this world and the never ending working to pay bills is because we have believed that we have to live a certain life style and buy everything we see or want. This is a trap that Satan has caused many to fall into. Comforts has become the god of America, and we do not want to learn to live on less. We want a bigger house, new cars, latest gadgets, etc. and it is killing us because then all we can do is work, work work. That is not what God wants for His children, He has greater plans with eternal rewards instead of this worlds temporal rewards that soon wear out. I don’t know if that is your case or not, but many times we get “tunnel vision” and think we have to work more instead of spending less.

  5. Denise Powers Fabian says:

    Lord, help me not to get entangled in civilian affairs.

  6. Valkirias says:

    By my back of the envelope calculations this would give about 50% capacity – one of these pairs would cover the single track section in about twelve minutes. The MTA also proposed the most wasteful single track operation. They could have maintained 12 tph operation. The key is to operate trains at 40 tph and to run 6 trains before changing direction. Manhattan bound the first train would terminate at 8th Ave, the second at 6th Ave and the third at Union Sq. The 4th, 5th and 6th trains terminate similarly but wrong rail. Trains bound for Brooklyn would terminate at Rockaway Pkwy, E 105 St and New Lots Ave in a similar fashion. Six trains would leave at Lorimer between hh:00:00 to hh:07:30 (40 tph). Travel time from Lorimer to Union Sq is 07:30. This means the last Manhattan bound train would arrive at hh:15:00. Six Brooklyn bound trains would leave Union Sq at hh:15:00 and continue until hh:22:30. The last train would arrive at Lorimer at hh:30:00 at which time the Manhattan bound trains would re-cycle. This gives an effective rate of 12 tph or 60% of the 20 tph max service level presently provided. It would take 18 trainsets to provide such continuous service, as opposed to the 24 trainsets currently required for maximum service.

  7. Anne Penner says:

    Praying for you.

  8. Samantha Jenkins says:

    I have been feeling so Exhausted lately with school and this gave me such relief

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