Eunice is known to us over 2,000 years later as the wise mother of Timothy, but from the beginning, the odds were stacked high against her family. She did not live to see the fruit her life and faithfulness would produce. Her reality was that she bore the stigma of a marriage to a man who was outside her religion and her race in a time when these choices were much more taboo than they are today. Her husband died or abandoned her, leaving her to raise their son alone among the tight-knit Jewish community where he would never be fully accepted because of his mixed-race birth.
Thank God for Lois, her mother. She came along side her daughter, in the midst of the shame and desertion that had already marked her life. Together, they built a home for Timothy and themselves. Eunice and Lois are known to us today as an example of teaching a child the way he should go. Their reality was that they were living on the fringes of society, barely holding their faith together. Perhaps they thought that if Timothy knew about their faith, it might somehow gain him entrance among the Jewish men in their community. Perhaps they wanted to keep their own faith alive, and found that teaching it to Timothy encouraged their hearts, too. Perhaps they saw beyond the veil to a God of mercy and grace, and the hope in this God lifted their heads.
The gospel, the central message of Christianity, has always been that, Life doesn’t have to be this way. There is a better way. A narrow way that few find, but it leads to life. This message, the hope of change, has always resonated with the ones that know they are lowly, broken and poor. It is impossible to accept the gospel or to even see the need for Christ’s redemption without acknowledging that we fit the above categories. To be a Christ-follower is to admit defeat. Eunice’s family would not need much convincing when they met Paul, God’s messenger of the gospel.
From the context of the few verses about Eunice’s family, it seems that Paul knew Timothy from the time he was young. When Paul, on a return trip to Lystra, heard other believers speaking well of him, his heart must have swelled with pride! There is no better reward for ministry than to know that someone who received is now giving to others. The gift of life was going forward. Timothy would even join Paul on some of his travels, and later lead independently. He would affect generation after generation down to our present time. He was in on the ground floor of Christian faith, the same generation as Jesus himself.
We do not get to see our lives from the perspective of history. Eunice’s story looked so bleak. How could she have seriously hoped for a future for her son in the society in which she lived? And now, how many lives were affected because of her and her mother’s faith? They gave God their tiny bit of faith—their mustard seed.They did the only thing they knew to do, and it was enough. And that is the God we serve. He knows our limitations better than we do. He is fully aware of our shortcomings, whether they are our fault or just a product of the time and place we live in. His yoke is easy and his burden is light.
~ Joni Butler