To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
— 2 Timothy 1:2
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by what you were facing in life? I’m sure the answer to that question is yes. And certainly you know that you are not the only person who has faced what felt like insurmountable odds. There have been millions before you who felt the same, but with God’s help, they survived, tackled the odds, and even came out on top.
Tough times come to everyone at some point, but the storm eventually passes for those who are determined to navigate it God’s way. And to help His people “get to the other side” safely, God provides special mercy for the overwhelmed. That’s what I want to show you in Scripture today.
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The apostle Paul wrote the epistle we call Second Timothy at a time when his young son in the faith was facing insurmountable odds. Nero was ruling as emperor; believers were being persecuted for their faith; many people were deserting the Lord; and others were defecting from the Church. At the moment that Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, Timothy was serving as pastor in Ephesus — a major city in Asia where persecution was raging. Surviving every day was a challenge for believers in that region, and Christian leaders, of course, especially felt the brunt of it. By reading the words of Second Timothy, it is clear that Paul was trying to comfort the overwhelmed heart of this young Christian leader and provide him with some spiritual help and strength.
In the opening lines of that letter, Paul wrote, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (2 Timothy 1:1,2).
When Paul wrote a letter, he normally used a greeting that included the words grace and peace. Paul deviated from that greeting only three times out of all his 13 New Testament letters. The first instance was in First Timothy; the second was in his epistle to Titus; and the third was here in Second Timothy 1:2. In all three of these instances, Paul was writing to someone who felt overwhelmed by their situation. In each of those instances, Paul added the word mercy to his greetings. He told them, “Grace and mercy and peace be unto you.”
When Paul penned his first epistle to Timothy, the younger minister had just assumed the leading role in the rapidly growing church of Ephesus, and he felt overwhelmed by his new responsibilities. Because of the awesome task at hand, Timothy needed to be reminded that God’s mercy was available to help him in his situation. So when Paul wrote to Timothy the first time, he added the word “mercy” to his salutation.
When Paul wrote to Titus, he had just left Titus on the island of Crete to establish a church among the island’s unruly inhabitants. The people of Crete had such bad reputations that Paul even quoted one of their prophets as saying, “The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies.” Amazingly, Paul agreed with this assessment, asserting, “This witness is true…” (Titus 1:12,13). It would have been very difficult for Titus to lead a congregation among people like that! Titus surely felt overwhelmed by his assignment. He needed to know that a special measure of mercy was available to him for his difficult task. So when Paul wrote to him, he added the word “mercy” to his salutation.
When Paul wrote Second Timothy, Timothy was once again feeling overwhelmed — not because of a large, growing church, as had been in the case in Paul’s first letter to him, but because his congregation was in decline, people were suffering persecution, and a spirit of fear was trying to attach itself to him (see 2 Timothy 1:7). So when Paul wrote to him, he again altered his salutation to include the word mercy. Right from the start of his letter, he wanted to remind Timothy that God’s mercy was available to the overwhelmed, so Paul wrote, “Grace, mercy, and peace.”
Isn’t it good to know that when God calls you to do something difficult — something that threatens to overwhelm you or make you feel inadequate — He inserts extra mercy between the grace and the peace? There is a special measure of mercy to those who feel overwhelmed by their trials in life. This was especially good news for young Timothy, and it’s good news for you too!
When God’s mercy works in your life, it may manifest as a renewed sense of courage and inner toughness to make it to the next day. That may not seem very spectacular — but think how much more difficult it would be if you didn’t have that special touch of mercy!
It would be good for you to reflect on the ways you’ve already experienced God’s special mercy during difficult times in your life or in the lives of others. When you bring to your remembrance those times His mercy was demonstrated in your life right at the moment it was needed, it fortifies your expectation to receive a manifestation of God’s mercy in the midst of your present challenge as well.
If you feel overwhelmed by what you are facing in life, I want to assure you that God is well aware of it and He has not abandoned you. Whether the issue is financial, relational, work-related, health-related — whatever may be the root cause of what you are facing, you can be assured of this: God has special mercy that He is ready to make available to help you through this difficult time. Thank God for His grace and peace — but if you are feeling overwhelmed, receive by faith His special mercy to help you make it through victoriously to the other side!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I am so grateful that when You call me to do something difficult and it tempts me to feel inadequate, You insert extra mercy between the grace and the peace in my life. Holy Spirit, I receive a special measure of mercy to undergird me in the times when I feel overwhelmed by the trials of life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that when my heart is overwhelmed, I go to the Rock of my salvation to partake of His mercies that are new for me every morning. I confess that His mercy is at work in my life right now. Today I walk with a renewed sense of courage, persistence, and inner toughness because God’s all-sufficient grace, mercy, and peace are being multiplied to me.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Do you recall a time when you were especially overwhelmed by events in life and you experienced God’s mercy in a special way that helped you make it through that difficult season? How did God demonstrate His goodness to you in that time?
- Have you ever observed someone who received a special touch of God’s mercy? What was the manifestation of that mercy? What was its effect on that person’s life?
- What are you facing right now that makes you a candidate for another dose of God’s special mercy? Since God is always willing to give you a special touch of His mercy, why don’t you open your heart and allow the Holy Spirit to minister that to your heart and soul today?