I’ve been ruminating on 2 Timothy 2:3 of late which reads, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
This past year has revealed to me my lack of endurance when trying times come. Or at least, even though I “endured” the challenges, my attitude would not qualify as that of a “good soldier!”
I’m thankful, though, that whenever we come to Jesus, He is ready and willing to save. And so, to His loving arms, I come.
This excerpt, from Sketches from the Life of Paul pages 147-148, presents a picture of how I would like to deal with troublesome times in the future:
“Paul’s ministry in Ephesus had been a season of incessant labor, of many trials, and deep anguish. He taught the people in public and from house to house, instructing and warning them with many tears. He was continually opposed by the unbelieving Jews, who lost no opportunity to stir up the popular feeling against him. Again and again he was attacked by the mob, and subjected to insult and abuse. By every means which they could employ, the enemies of truth sought to destroy the effects of his labor for the salvation of men.
“And while thus battling against opposition, and with untiring zeal pushing forward the gospel work and guarding the interests of a church yet young in the faith, Paul was bearing upon his soul the burden of all the churches. Nor was he released even from the tax of physical labor. Here, as at Corinth, he worked with his own hands to supply his necessities. In weariness and painfulness from unceasing toil and constant danger, enfeebled by disease, and at times depressed in spirits, he steadfastly pursued his work.
“The news which he received, of apostasy in churches of his own planting, caused him deep anguish. He greatly feared that his efforts in their behalf would prove to have been in vain. Many a sleepless night was spent in prayer and earnest thought, as he learned of the new and varied methods employed to counteract his work. As he had opportunity, he wrote to the churches, giving reproof, counsel, admonition, and encouragement, as their state demanded. In his epistles the apostle does not dwell on his own trials, yet there are occasional glimpses of his labors and sufferings in the cause of Christ. Stripes and imprisonment, cold and hunger and thirst, perils by land and sea, in the city and in the wilderness, from his own countrymen, from the heathen, and from false brethren,—all these he endured for the truth’s sake. He was defamed, reviled, “made the offscouring of all things,” “perplexed, persecuted, troubled on every side,” “in jeopardy every hour,” “alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake.”
“Amid the constant storm of opposition, the clamor of enemies, and the desertion of friends, the intrepid apostle at times almost lost heart. But he looked back to Calvary, and with new ardor pressed on to spread the knowledge of the Crucified. He was but treading the blood-stained path which Christ had trodden before him. He sought no discharge from the warfare till he should lay off his armor at the feet of his Redeemer.
“Eighteen centuries have passed since the apostle rested from his labors; yet the history of his toils and sacrifices for Christ’s sake are among the most precious treasures of the church. That history was recorded by the Holy Spirit, that the followers of Christ in every age might thereby be incited to greater zeal and faithfulness in the cause of their Master.
“How does this hero of faith tower above the self-indulgent, ease-loving men who are today crowding the ranks of the ministry. When subjected to the ordinary difficulties and trials of life, many feel that their lot is hard. But what have they done or suffered for the cause of Christ? How does their record appear when compared with that of this great apostle? What burden of soul have they felt for the salvation of sinners? They know little of self-denial or sacrifice. They are indebted to the grace of Christ for all the excellences of character which they possess, for every blessing which they enjoy. All that they are, and all that they have, is the purchase of the blood of Christ. As the servants of Christ encounter opposition and persecution, they should not permit their faith to grow dim or their courage to fail. With Christ as a helper, they can resist every foe, and overcome every difficulty. The same obligation rests upon them which impelled the apostle to his unwearied labors. Only those who emulate his fidelity, will share with him the crown of life.”