Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs–he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this. 2 Timothy 2:3-7 (NIV)
You do know that this life is filled with pain and suffering. You do know that this life will require you to endure hardship. This is a sin broken world that no longer functions according to its original design. Life is now, not as it was once, intended to be. Sin has brought pain and suffering and hardship into this life. I experienced pain and suffering and hardship, so will you. This should come as no surprise to you. Believe me, it doesn’t. I am under no illusions. Why do you say that? I have experienced my share of pain and suffering and hardship. Yet, I know that others have endured far more. I have no idea what pain and suffering and hardship might lie ahead of me. What do you know? I know you will be with me to help me. You will not forsake or forget me. You will comfort and encourage me. You will lift me up. Sometimes, you will even carry me. At all times, you will help me to keep moving forward with you. Yes, I will do all these things for you. You can rely fully on me. Of that, I have no doubt. That is very good.
What else to do know about hardship? Sometime loving and following and serving you will require me to endure hardship. Why is that? The places you will lead me to go and the things you will give me to do will not always be easy. The work will be challenging. I will experience trials. I will endure temptations. I will certainly experience difficulties along the way. You experienced trials and temptations and difficulties as you were fully devoted to loving and following and serving your Heavenly Father, why wouldn’t I, as well? That is true. But I will be like a soldier with you as my commanding officer. How so? I will live to do what is pleasing to you. I will not allow myself to be enticed and dragged away from serving you. I will not allow myself to become involved in what could be called civilian affairs. Instead, with your help, my life will resemble that of a finely tuned athlete. I will enter your training. I will keep my heart and mind and life focused on you. I will run the race you have set before me. I will stay on course. That will be very good. Or you could say, I will be like a hard-working farmer. I will keep on doing the work you set before me. I will keep on sowing. One day, I will reap a rich harvest for you. With your help, I will bear fruit for your kingdom and bring glory to your name. Yes, you will. Thank you, Lord.
Lord, I know that this life is filled with pain and suffering. I that know I will be no stranger to hardship. You experienced pain and suffering and hardship. So will I. Help me to endure pain and suffering and hardship as I live a life that is fully devoted to you. Amen
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