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. Sara says:

    I love to think about how Christ is not bound by the laws of the world He made and has defeated death so we can be bound for Heaven and Him!

  2. CJ says:

    Oh Sarah – I am so sorry you are feeling defeated. This does not define you (*insert Moana song here*). You are a smart intelligent person! Test taking is difficult. I have a cousin who took her Boards to be a doctor THREE times, not because she isnt super smart, but because test taking is difficult for her. Chemistry is a lot to remember – may I suggest a test taking tip? Do a brain “dump” when you first start the test – on a blank piece of paper or on the back of the test, write down all the equations, piece of info you might need later. Then you can relax and focus on the question one at a time. Pre-test make a little 3×5 notecard of things you might need to know and that can act as your brain “dump”. I will be praying for you!

  3. Chris says:

    I just finished reading a very good book that a friend shared with my daughter who is going through cancer. She is also bi-polar, but controlled because of her strong faith— this book is the best Christian “self-help” book I’ve read. It’s very steeped in the Bible— it’s also very heavy in brain science— but it’s worth the read. Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf. It’s also a free Kindle book if you have Amazon Prime.

    1. Julie says:

      So thankful for this book recommendation. I really feel like God lead me back to this comment. I had a tough therapy session yesterday and was discouraged. I really feel like this a game changer for me. Thank you Thank you! Blessings :)

  4. Ana Silva says:

    “I am weak and He is strong. Yes Jesus loves me.” This lullaby has a totally different meaning today. I don’t know a single nursery that this song hasn’t been sang in and it is so much more than a song for a baby. After reading today it comes to mind that this song is the perfect lullaby because it literally puts a baby to sleep wrapping him in the love and grace of Jesus. It is peaceful to know that you can find rest from your burdens in Jesus because He is so much stronger then all of us.

  5. Sarah D. says:

    Though I am weak, He is strong. So unfortunately I failed my Chemistry test again. I just feel so defeated. I know I could have studied harder, but I’ve been doing a lot. I’ve been going to tutoring each week, I’ve visited the professor, studied with friends, made flashcards, did practice problems. But if never pans out when I take the test. And sometimes I just feel so dumb around my friends who actually get it and get good grades. I’ve never been this bad at something or getting these bad grades before (especially not in highschool). So not sure what will happen, most likely will need to retake this chemistry, possibly over the summer. Please pray that I will rest in the Lord’s strength and remember that my grades do not define my worth.

    1. Sarah D. says:

      (also this is a college chemistry class–I’m in my freshman year of college)

      1. Sarah R. says:

        Oh fellow Sarah, it was not long ago that I was fretting over my grades, too! I was never brave enough to take something as science-focused as chemistry, but I had roommates who studied late into the night for their chem exams. You are right; your grades DO NOT define your worth. Christ has found all of us worthy in his sight, with no regard for our abilities. Keep using your resources and working hard–I pray that the Lord will give you strength to push on!

      2. Tiffany says:

        Hang in there Sarah. You are not your grades. I have a daughter in college also and I know it can be challenging at times. Praying God’s peace and strength as you move ahead. This will all soon be behind you. God bless.

    2. Trinity Lorimer says:

      As someone who just graduated college a week ago, I’ll let you in on a secret—God will get you through it. There will be difficult classes such as your chemistry, or inadequate projects and papers, but if the Lord has you in the college then he has a reason. Don’t give up and one day you will be a graduate, too!

  6. Janet Caldwell says:

    Love this C. S. Lewis quote

  7. Janet Caldwell says:

    Kailee. Press on sweet one. My youngest is 23. I, too, suffered from depression after he was born. My dad died a month before he was born and he was the third boy. It hit hard and I had to take him to a sitter during the day while the other two were at school. I struggled to even feed him at times. It was a horrible time the darkest I’ve felt. But like others have suggested mental health is just as much an illness as diabetes, auto immune illness diseases, or any other. I took some medicines that helped over time. God is faithful and one day as I was sitting reading my bible I just told him if this is how my life is going to be then you are going to have to give me the strength to get through it and slowly I began to heal. Now after all these years and some other difficult circumstances I find myself back in that depression, not as dark but still seeking. The evil one strolls the earth like a roaring lion seeking those to devour but for those who believe we are bound to Jesus and the hope that he brings even when we don’t “feel” it. In my greatest times of doubt he still holds me. That’s his promise it’s not me clinging to him, it’s him holding tightly. Prayers for you.

    1. She Reads Truth says:

      Hi Janet, thanks so much for sharing. We’re praying for you during this time and are so grateful that you’re a part of our community. -Margot, The SRT Team

  8. Tanis Stewart says:

    Claire, THANK YOU. I am new to this SRT community. I have been a Christian for many years but became a wholehearted follower in 2010 when my marriage of 22 years dissolved. Jesus became my EVERYTHING while I cried out to Him morning after morning. He was and is so faithful. He sowed me that He is able to unbind what was binding my heart and set me free so I could experience the Boundlous Love of God. Thankful for the reminder that His Power is in no way bound on this earth. May He continue to allow me to witness to others my “talent” of suffering for His glory and His Kingdom.

    1. She Reads Truth says:

      Welcome Tanis, we’re so glad that you’re joining us! -Margot, The SRT Team

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