Last week we began the discussion of the power of purpose. If you haven't read last weeks post, I recommend going back and starting there. We'll wait.
2. Expect ‘predictable resistance’
(MSG) “…accept the hard times along with the good…”. Ever hear the old statement, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”? Listen to what Paul is telling Timothy—you are going to face hard times, they will come. Don’t let them sidetrack you. Don’t let them stop you from connecting with your purpose.
There is trouble in this world because there is a ‘troublemaker’ who has declared war on God and all of God’s purposes and plans.
We live in a broken world and as long as we are ‘in this world’, we will have hard times! Paul is simply telling Timothy not to let the hard times that will come—the predictable resistance—stop him from connecting to his God-given purpose.
Let’s talk about purpose and hard times for a moment: there are too many bad theologies out there about trouble: “Well, I must be doing something right cause I sure am having a hard time.” If that were true, then everyone having a hard time is having one because they are pursuing righteousness! I know that’s not true, because a lot of my hard times came as a result of my stupidity, not my Godliness!
And then there’s the other side of that bad theology: “Well everything is just coming so easily, I must be walking in God’s purpose.” The Bible says Jesus’ purpose was to destroy the works of the evil one and give us rich and satisfying life. On the way to accomplishing that He was ridiculed, harassed, betrayed, arrested, jailed, beaten, and crucified! Obviously, just because something seems to be happening without much trouble doesn’t mean you are pursuing God’s best, it just means you aren’t having any trouble right now.
What Paul is telling Timothy is that you will have good times and you will have bad times. The point is this:
Don’t let anything stop you from connecting to God’s purpose.
A great example of this is Joseph—the ‘Coat of Many Colors’ guy from the Old Testament. Remember Joseph? He had a dream that his brothers would bow down to him and he thought that was his purpose. So he shared it with them and they beat him up, threw him in pit, sold him into slavery. He was carried into a foreign land where he was sold to a guy named Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife had a thing for him, but Joseph wouldn’t give her any attention, so, embarrassed by his rejection, she made up a story that he tried to rape her and had him thrown in prison.
In prison he helps a couple of guys by explaining what their dreams meant in exchange for them helping him get out, but when they got out they forgot all about him. Finally one day, one of them remembered Joseph because the king needed to understand a dream. Joseph explains the dream, is released from prison, and rises to power in the foreign land, Egypt. He helps Egypt prepare for a great time of worldwide famine, which in turn makes Egypt the richest and most powerful country on the planet, and Joseph becomes the kings #1 man.
Then one day the brothers who beat him and sold him into slavery come calling because they are starving to death. Their father, and Joseph’s, and, coincidentally, the father of the future nation of Israel, sent them to Egypt to find food. His brothers bow down before him, just as he had seen in that dream so long ago.
At that moment Joseph is overcome with emotion and has to leave the room. Not because his dream has finally come true, not because he was overwhelmed with seeing his brothers again, but because he got it! At that moment, every trouble made sense. Until then, they were just troubles, and unjust troubles at that. But at that moment, as his brothers bowed down before him, he understood his purpose was not to stand before his brothers in greatness as he had originally thought and shared. His purpose was to be positioned by God to save an entire nation from death—to keep Israel alive, to save the nation from which the savior of the entire world would come!
All the troubles paled in comparison to God’s purpose for him. He didn’t understand them while they were happening, but he never stopped, never let the hard times stop him from connecting to God and God’s purpose for him. For 20 years he wasn’t seeing the purpose he saw in the dream, but he just completed what was put in front of him, just kept serving God. Then one day, the purpose he saw in the dream happened and it was so much bigger than he ever imagined. And when he saw that purpose, it all made sense!
You don’t have to understand the troubles, the hard times. You don’t have to like them. But don’t ever let them stop you from connecting to God’s purpose for you.
Our purpose is bigger than our problems.
The problems don’t go away, they just submit to the power of purpose. We continue pursuing purpose through the problems, then one day we will see what He sees and we’ll say what Joseph said, “As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what was meant for evil, for he brought me to this place so that I could save the lives of many people.” Genesis 50:20 (TLB)
We'll continue with Part 3 next Thursday at 1PM (EST).