In 2 Timothy 4, Paul tells Timothy to preach the word “in season and out of season” and to “do the work of an evangelist.” He instructs his young mentee to preach the gospel at all times, no matter the situation or circumstance. As I post this from a hospital room where my wife is being treated for cancer, I think one of the times that often feels “out of season” is in the midst of adversity.
When we are facing uncertainty, pain, grief, and all the things associated with trials, the last thing I’m thinking about is preaching the word. And yet, I find that God gives me tremendous opportunities in the midst of difficult circumstances to be a witness for Him. Certainly, I do not believe Paul would intend to add an additional burden to those who are grieving or going through a difficult situation by commanding them to do evangelism. Rather, as I experience God’s grace and comfort and perfect peace, I find his instruction to Timothy to be an encouragement to testify of a God who is faithful in the midst of trial.
Sure, there are times where I need to be on the receiving end of ministry – allowing others to bear my burdens, comfort me by their presence, encourage me through prayer, serve me through meeting my practical needs. And, when I am at my lowest point, God sends others to be His witness in my life. But there are also many opportunities to give praise to God for his continued faithfulness and the reason for the hope that is in me.
- To those who ask about my wife, I share not only her condition but testify to her strong faith in the Lord.
- To unbelieving friends who have expressed care for me, I am honest about my struggles, but also about my source of hope.
- To my children, I teach them about the faithfulness of God and model what it means to trust Him.
- To others in need of comfort, I offer them the comfort I myself have received from the Lord.
- To nurses, doctors and other caretakers, we testify to the goodness of God and our trust in Him through it all.
- When others observe our joy despite all that is going on, we share that our relationship with the Lord is the source of that joy.
- As people inquire about our needs, I testify of the faithful care and support of the body of Christ.
- To fellow believers I have been able to share about how God has been working in my life to grow me spiritually.
- To others suffering, but who don’t know Him, I can offer the hope that I have found in Jesus Christ.
Certainly, I don’t go to every situation with the aim of preaching or personal evangelism. Actually, I find I am not going into any situation that way right now. But I am increasingly seeing everything through spiritual eyes. Seeing God’s grace to us in the midst of our trial, then seeing the opportunity to testify to that grace and often minister that same grace to others. In the valley, I continually look to God for strength. I also allow Him to work through me even as he is working for me and in me. As I increasingly experience the Lord’s faithfulness in the midst of trial, I am finding that adversity is a time where being His witness is “in season” after all.
What opportunities have you had to testify of God’s grace in the midst of adversity?