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Do you know the purpose of the word "but" in your sentence? Whenever you insert "but" into the sentence, you are saying the prior stuff is "negated" by the next stuff you are about to say.  For example, when you say, "The caramel truffle was delightful, but I think it went right to my hips," you are saying although it tasted delightful and there was that moment of pure ecstasy when you indulged, you will regret having to workout a little longer on the treadmill tomorrow! "But" makes null and void what has just been said, or puts some type of condition on it.  Another example, "You were supposed to do that yesterday, but I understand you had an emergency..."  In this example, the person is willing to overlook the failure to do whatever it was that should have been complete by now, all because there was the "condition" of an emergency arising in your life.  So, the "but" is significant to set up what is going to come next, isn't it?

But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. (2 Timothy 1:12 ESV)

Our writer (Paul) has just told Timothy there has been a whole lot of problems in his life, including being put into prison for preaching the gospel of salvation.  His efforts to be a witness to the testimony of Christ's birth, death, and resurrection have landed him in some pretty bad places and his life is not getting much better.  But...  He is about to negate what others may see as negative and unrewarding circumstances in his life.  All of this present "sorrow" is about to be made inexplicably "okay" because of the "but".  It isn't that the circumstances are easy to endure, or even that there is hope they are about to turn around for him so he might enjoy release from his prison cell.  It isn't that he knows someone is about to post bail, or that his sentence will be reduced.  He is there because his message has offended the religious leaders of the day and they feel the only way to "silence" the message is to lock him up for speaking forth the truth.  With one tiny word he turns the outline of his present circumstances in a totally different direction - but...  

In spite of their repeated attempts to bring me shame and cause me to question what I am doing ...

In spite of their accusations my work is not "valid" or based on "truth" ...

In spite of their attempts to break me by placing me in darker places than I have ever known before...

I am not ashamed!  I am convinced even more today than I was yesterday - the message is real, trustworthy, and life-altering!

I am convinced that even when my ability wanes, ebbing and flowing like the tides of the ocean, HE is ABLE...

All this is introduced as the condition upon which Paul hopes and knows his deliverance is possible!  God is ABLE.  What does "able" mean to you?  If we are to stand "convinced" of his "ability", we have to answer that question for ourselves. We might judge God's ability based upon the circumstances we find ourselves in at the moment.  For example, we see God's ability as kind of "conditional" whenever  we do things such as celebrating with great joy his ability to provide for our needs, but then when leaner times come we might not even think to celebrate his ability to hold us up during those times.  

Able might mean "adequate" to some of us.  I don't know about you, but I don't want an "adequate" God standing behind me - I want an "outstanding", "awesome", "all-powerful", "all-knowing", "all-loving" God standing in my corner!  Able might mean "adept" to some of us.  I know God is an "expert" in working things out, even when I get them a little messed up in my life, but he is so much more than "skilled" at setting things straight - he is also the one who can help me live in such a way that things I've done or said don't need a lot of "clean up" in the end!  Able might mean "ready" to some of us.  It might be we think God just stands by "just in case" - he is "ready" (on the spot when we need him).  God certainly wants to be more than a "just in case" God for us.

When Paul says God is "able", he is saying he is "convinced" in the ability of God to "guard" the truth of the message he has been proclaiming.  In essence, he is assuring Timothy, and all the other readers of this letter down through the ages of the reliability of placing our trust in God above all other things, people, or actions.  He is "able" - equipped in every way to handle our life's circumstances; powerful in ways we are not; fitted to perfectly set in order what seems to be in utter chaos around us.  How we view God's ability in our lives may just determine how we face the circumstances we find ourselves in at the moment.  I'd like to think we KNOW with a certainty that God's ability in our lives is what negates all the "power" any circumstance has over us!  Just sayin!


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