July 18, 2023
“Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:3)
There is a silent engine that runs underneath the lives of those who are most fruitful in their lives, families, businesses, and ministries. It empowers them, giving them the ability to do things others simply will not do.
They are willing to endure hardship.
Every true leader and great hero has exhibited this quality. It’s the passion that propels them to do what must be done—regardless of the cost—to accomplish the mission.
Some level of hardship is before each of us who walk with Christ. This is because we face three ever-present enemies: the world and its unceasing ideas and pressure (which is diametrically opposed to God’s kingdom); the weakness of our flesh (our humanity without Christ with which we have an ever-present struggle); and the Devil and his armies (with which we are in constant battle).
Whether or not we will resist the world’s ideas and plans, overcome temptations and sin, and be victorious over the enemy’s onslaughts will be determined in great measure by our willingness to “endure hardship.” To keep going, empowered by the Holy Spirit.
WISDOM FROM VETERANS
Paul’s letters to his young son in the faith, Timothy, are full of this critical component. His words carry great authority because Timothy had watched his mentor faithfully do what he was asking Timothy to do. Paul urged Timothy to "suffer hardship with me."
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. (2 Timothy 2:8-10)
When faced with inevitable suffering that many prophesied would occur if Paul went to Jerusalem, he replied with this “life verse” statement:
“But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 2:24)
Many want the effectiveness of a man like Paul, but they fail to understand the cost. Paul’s Master had taught and illustrated that to follow Him, we must “take up our cross.” This meant a willingness to cross the line where others stopped. To go all the way. To be willing to choose the path of sacrifice, suffering, and self-denial if, in so doing, it would bring life to others and glory to God.
We don’t like to talk about hardship, but we should. Many men and women fail to accomplish God’s destiny because they stop at the door of difficulty and turn away.
Your hardships—pain, problems, opposition, difficulty, people, a demanding task, the last 10% of a tough conversation—call for you to accept hardship to finish the task. It will come in the next step that is before you, which can be large or small. Rising to meet with God when you’d rather sleep. Giving yourself to unceasing prayer. Facing a tough decision that may be opposed by others or cause you to lose your reputation before men. Discipling people with all their needs and problems … and on and on.
The world will offer a thousand escape routes. It will invite you to sit in an air-conditioned room and passively give up your calling. You can make excuses, whispered in your ear by the Great Deceiver, and ignore the next challenging step. But if you do, you will miss everything.
The Holy Spirit resides in you if you are a true follower of Christ. You have all the strength you need as you rely on Him, all the wisdom you need as you follow Him, and you are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (headed by Christ Himself) cheering you on.
Stay the course. Move forward by the grace of God. Take the next God-directed step. There is a reward beyond imagining at the end.
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