“As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5
Imagine for a moment that God Himself appeared to you, led you to a seat, and gave you a private screening of your future. Nervousness grows into anxiety and anxiety to fear, fear to horror as time after time you see yourself laughed at, spit on, punched in the face, whipped, beaten with wooden rods, smashed with rocks until unconscious, and eventually, after years of imprisonment, executed.
The Apostle Paul, the writer of the letters to Timothy, knew what it would cost him to follow Christ; he was shown his suffering in advance (Acts 9:16). Each city he traveled to held another beating, more mocking, and ridicule. However, it also held more people that needed to hear the good news of Jesus Christ (Acts 18:9-10) and that was more important to him than avoiding pain and suffering. By faith, he pressed forward.
Like Paul, we as followers of Christ have been called to suffer for His cause and to make Him known to an unbelieving world. When Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24) we can know in advance what is coming. We will be ostracized by our family (Mark 10:29), endure ridicule, mocking, and slander (Matthew 5:11), lose our homes, possessions (Hebrews 10:34), and even our lives (Romans 8:36). Beyond these physical things, we are trapped in sinful bodies as part of a broken, fallen world. Our spirits are oppressed by the corruption that surrounds and the sin that so easily ensnares us. We long for our Creator to make things right.
Yet, God did not just leave us to suffer with no hope. In His mercy, He also revealed the wonderful result if we trust in His promises and persevere to the end: life unending in glorified bodies, free from sinfulness, and forever in perfect fellowship with our Redeemer.
Difficult times, persecution, and other hardships will come and we need not be unprepared. God has given us everything we need in His Word. May we never lose sight of our calling: Called by Christ to suffer but one day soon called home to be with Him. What a glorious day that will be!
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time
are not worth comparing
with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”