If you’ve ever experienced a car break down in the middle of the night, in a remote part of an unfamiliar city, and with a dead phone, you may slightly understand the meaning of the word stranded. If you’ve ever got on a faulty train that has had to stop due to technical difficulties, but unable to get off even though you were running late for an important meeting, you may know what it’s like to be stranded. It’s worse if it’s an underground train and you are stuck in a tunnel.
And if you’ve experienced lack at some point in your life so much so that you couldn’t pay for your basic needs: food, shelter and clothing, or things you need for your family to survive, you may also understand what it means to be stranded.
In every sphere of life, I see stranded people; those who are stranded because of something someone did to them or a life event that has halted them in their journey. The Bible is replete with examples of such people. People like Eve, Isaac, Esau, Noah, Sarah, Hagar, Leah, Joseph, Moses, the Israelites, Esther, Samson, Ruth, Saul, David, John the Baptist, Joseph, Jesus’ father, Mary his mother, Mary Magdalene, Elizabeth, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Jesus, Peter, make up my list of those who have been stranded at some point in their lives. A man by the name of Paul found himself stranded too in 2 Timothy 1:15 because he had been ditched by people who should have been there for him.
No one likes to be stranded but things happen; like it or not. You may find yourself in a state where you are stranded because of the loss of a job, marriage, relationship, position, friendships, or a medical condition etc. And while in a stranded situation, it is possible to become frustrated, angry, feel hopeless and to be filled with a sense of apprehension. It is also possible that you may look up to anyone or anything offering an escape from your situation.
You know you are really stuck when you find yourself in a situation where you cannot see a feasible and immediate way out and where turning back or undoing your actions seem impossible. Having lost my dad at 20 years of age and experienced some setbacks myself, I can very well relate to this topic. To be stranded means: to bring into or leave in a helpless position: for example, someone who was stranded in the middle of nowhere. It also means: to be halted or struck by a difficult situation.
But what if instead of seeing yourself as stranded, you start to consider that maybe you are in transition. While the previous sounds like a bad ending, the former sounds like you are in the middle of something that’s about to begin. To be in transition means: movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change: for ex, the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
Being stranded suggests that something bad has happened to you, to which you have little or no control, and therefore is accompanied by a feeling of helplessness. Transition on the other hand suggests growth, evolution, shift, realignment, transformation etc., all of which can only happen with your involvement.
It’s therefore important to keep looking at the situations life throws at you from a different perspective. Besides, God is our very present help in time of trouble and therefore He is able to help us in our stranded state.
HERE ARE 5 LESSONS I LEARNED FROM PAUL’S LETTER WHEN HE WAS STRANDED IN 1 TIMOTHY 1
1. Fan into the flame the gift of God in you. This means to utilise your gifts – both extraordinary and ordinary. Don’t wait around until your situation gets better before you do something worthwhile with the gifts you have been given. Paul wrote majority of his letters in prison, while he was stranded. So you and I have no excuse
2. Do not be ashamed of being stranded. Paul was suffering because of a call to live a holy life and so he cautions you and I to not consider it shameful when we are in our stranded state
3. We are to keep the things we have learnt as a template for managing our lives and for teaching others. Paul wrote this chapter to encourage Timothy so that he wouldn’t make the same mistakes he had made. What lessons have you learnt in life that can be passed on to others to help them avoid making the same mistakes you had made? Don’t just keep what you have heard or learnt, but guard what was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in you.”
4. No matter who has left you, there’s always someone or a people that God has raised up to help you. Therefore, rather than focusing on what you’ve lost, think of what you still have
5. Always remember those who help you in your time of need and to pray for them.
Finally, God is able to keep that which you entrust in His care. The plans that He has for you are for good and not evil and He will therefore bring you to an expected end. This implies that your stranded state is not the end of your journey. You are in transition, and so don’t give up just yet.