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Have you ever felt overwhelmed by what you were facing in life?

I’m sure the answer to that question is YES! Of course you know that you’re not the only person who’s faced what felt like insurmountable odds. There have been millions before you who felt the very same way at one time or another. But with God’s help, they tackled the odds, survived, and even came out on top. And I want to encourage you that you can come out on top too.

Tough times come to everyone at some point, but those times eventually pass for those who are determined to make it through! However, those determined believers don’t have to make it through on their own or in their own strength or might. In each time of temptation, test, or trial, there is mercy available to help them along the way. God provides special mercy for the overwhelmed — and that’s what I sense strongly in my heart that I’m to share with you from Scripture this month.

The apostle Paul wrote what we call the book of Second Timothy at a time when Timothy was facing insurmountable odds. Nero was ruling as emperor, believers were being brutally persecuted for their faith, and many people were deserting the Lord while others were defecting from the church. At the moment Paul wrote his second 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.

It’s clear in reading the words in Second Timothy that Paul was trying to comfort the overwhelmed heart of this younger Christian leader, his son in the faith. Paul wrote under the direction and inspiration of the Holy Spirit to provide Timothy with some spiritual help and strength to make it through the extreme challenge he was facing. This is one reason why I love the book of Second Timothy so much.

I want to point out something you may not have seen as you’ve read the first verses of this epistle from Paul. But what I’m about to share with you today is so important for anyone who feels overwhelmed by circumstances or responsibilities in life. Knowing about what Timothy was facing, Paul wrote to him, and in the opening lines of that letter, he said, “To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our lord” (2 Timothy 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 was in First Timothy, the second was in the epistle to Titus, and the third was here in Second Timothy. In all three of these instances, Paul was writing to those who felt overwhelmed by their situations. In each of those letters, Paul added the word mercy to his greeting. Instead of writing, “Grace and peace be unto you,” he told them, “Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you.”

For example:

  • When Paul penned First Timothy, Timothy 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 a bad reputation that Paul even quoted one of their own prophets as saying, “…The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies….” Amazingly, Paul agreed with this assessment, asserting that “this witness is true…” (see 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 overwhelmed — not because of a large, fast-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 severe persecution, and a spirit of fear was trying to attach itself to Timothy (see 2 Timothy 1:7). So when Paul wrote to him, he altered his salutation to include the word mercy. Right from the start of his letter, he wanted to remind Timothy that God’s mercy is always available to the overwhelmed. Paul said “…Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (v. 2).

Isn’t it good to know that when God calls you to do something difficult — something that overwhelms you or makes you feel inadequate — He inserts extra mercy between the grace and the peace? And when you’re going through some severe test or trial that has you feeling completely overwhelmed, isn’t it a great comfort to know that God is right there with special mercy for your situation?

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 and me too.

When this special mercy from God works in your life, it may manifest merely as bravery, courage, and the inner toughness to make it to the next day. You may not think that’s very significant, but think how much harder it would be if you didn’t have that special touch of mercy on your life! Would you throw in the towel and quit just short of your greatest harvest or breakthrough yet?

It’s always good to reflect on how God’s mercy has manifested in our lives in times past. Can you think of ways that God’s mercy has come upon you — or ways you’ve seen it work in others? I think it would be good for you to think of the ways you’ve already experienced or witnessed special mercy in hard times.

  • Think of a time when you were especially overwhelmed by events in life, but you felt God’s mercy upon you to help you make it through that difficult season.
  • Have you ever observed someone who received a special touch of God’s mercy? How did you see it — what was the manifestation of it? What was the effect of that mercy?
  • What are you facing right now that makes you feel the need for extra mercy?

If you feel overwhelmed by what you’re facing in life, I want to reassure you that God is well aware of it, and He has not abandoned you. Whether it’s financial, relational, work-related, or health-related — whatever kind of situation you’re facing — God has special mercy that He makes available to help you through this hard time. Thank God for His grace and peace, but if you feel overwhelmed, God also gives mercy to help you make it through to the other side of what you’re dealing with right now! There is no doubt about it, my friend: God provides special mercy for the overwhelmed.

Why don’t you open your heart and soul and allow the Holy Spirit to apply a special touch of God’s mercy to your life today? Since God has it available for you, He is faithful to do it!

Copyright © Rick Renner Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission

Author Biography

Rick Renner
Web site: Rick Renner Ministries
Rick and Denise met while they were each on an individual quest to wholeheartedly follow God's plan for their lives. Rick was a college student, growing in his teaching ministry. Denise was a talented vocalist. She chose not to pursue a course that held the prospect of performing with the Metropolitan Opera so that she could instead pursue a relationship with Rick and fulfill her heart's desire to enter full-time ministry.

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