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. Erin Richard says:

    Praying for you, Kailee.

  2. Cara Stiegler says:

    Love that quote!

  3. Natalie Mann says:


  4. Lauren Coaston says:

    I needed this word today as I am recovering from a double mastectomy. In so many ways I feel bound but i know because of the word that I made the best decision for my health and future.

    1. Candy says:

      May God bless you and heal you Lauren!

    2. She Reads Truth says:

      Hi Lauren, thank you for sharing. We’re praying for you during this time of recovery. So grateful that you’re here! -Margot, The SRT Team

    3. Bobbie says:

      Lauren, I will remember you in my prayers. I had a bilateral mastectomy/reconstruction a few years ago (18 months after my cancer diagnosis) The recovery was tough but God’s power is tougher! Best decision! I am healthy, strong and 5 years cancer free! Be well, dear one and cling to God’s faithfulness.

  5. Sabrina Klomp says:

    Thank you for this beautiful message. The gospel is so simple and packed with power. I feel totally depleted of energy this morning, partly stress and partly having two under two. But His kingdom purposes are not limited by our human weakness! Thank you Lord!

  6. Kerry Terry says:

    Thank you Lord, for this teaching today. Thank you for the encouragement from Your Word to all. May we be a blessing through You to others today. Thank you for Your whispers and Your shouts to us. You are my rock, and I am bound.
    As a tiny, beautiful, elderly teacher, neighbor, friend would often say, “Onward!” May you all have God’s peace and joy along your journeys today.

  7. Kelly Chataine says:

    No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. II Timothy 2:4 LOVE ~ LOVE ~ LOVE How many times have I read that passage? Many times. God is alive and amazing! The scriptures touched me deeply, especially 2 Timothy 2:4.

  8. Churchmouse says:

    I desire to only be bound to Him. I desire to be a bound – servant, a bond slave to Jesus. I can face all things, endure all things, and have victory in all things because He gives me strength.

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