|Have you been going through a tough time recently? For many, the answer to the question is likely to be, “Yes,” and for some it might be a resounding, “YES!”
This week’s Pause Bible reading landed us in the Book of 2 Timothy. It is a Bible book that was written originally as a letter of encouragement to a young man Paul (the author) knew would face some tough times on his Christian journey.
“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please Him who enlisted him as a soldier.”
2 Timothy 2:3-4
Maybe you’re in a situation where you’re looking for encouragement as you face your tough time. It may be a relationship challenge, a financial hardship, a work-related difficulty, whatever, but for you, it is a season that you would like to be over. Many who are reading these words are aware of my physical tough time, which I continue to walk out every day. That fact makes these words much more than theoretical or merely suggestive.
One of the featured points of encouragement Paul offers to this young Christ-follower, Timothy, seems so insensitive for someone who either was or would in the future be facing a difficult situation. The encouragement was to “endure!” Can you believe it? I don’t know about you, but for me, tough times tend to engender in me a sense of “I just want some relief!” “Endure” is not the kind of encouragement I’m generally looking for.
Just to help us with some perspective, it should be noted that this letter of encouragement is being written from a man who was in prison and for all intents and purposes was sitting on death row! Knowing that makes me want to stop for a minute and think. What is this guy saying, and what is his angle on tough times?
The challenges I have faced over the past year have caused me to re-evaluate things in my life. Paul doesn’t exactly use the word “re-evaluate,” but he does encourage Timothy to “remember” (2 Timothy 2:8). In short, he’s telling him to endure the tough time, but, as he is doing so, take time to remember a few very important facts. I’ve found these facts to be extremely stabilizing for me in tough times. I want to point them out with this prayer for you, that they become a foundation for you as you endure your difficult days. Here they are from 2 Timothy 2:
1. Remember Jesus Christ was raised from the dead – v. 8
2. Remember God’s Word is powerful, it cannot be contained – v. 9
3. Remember God’s purpose will succeed – v. 10
4. Remember God’s promises are trustworthy – vss. 11-13
Keeping these truths in my thinking are effective in helping me endure hardship, they help keep me from getting tangled up in things I don’t need, and they help me live in a way that makes my Heavenly Father pleased and proud of me.
I’m trying to be more consistent in remembering these things. Yes, it’s tough, especially when times are tough. But since the circumstance is slow to change or may not change at all, I want to be changed to better endure whatever my hardship might be.
I hope you can find some encouragement there; I think I’m learning that I can, but sometimes it’s tough.
Pastor Dan Hicks