“Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”
(II Timothy 2:3)
Thoughts… I admire Paul’s attitude toward discomfort. Whether he was bring thrown in prison, beaten with rods, drifting at sea on a plank from the ship that had just wrecked, being kicked out of the city for preaching the Gospel, abandoned by his so-called friends, told he was crazy by government officials, or many of the other various things he had suffered, he treated them as just being part of the job. Suffering was just all in a days work for Paul.
Maybe those city officials were right—Paul was a little crazy. (Acts 26:24) Who in their right mind has such a lackadaisical attitude about hardship? The answer: One who sees their role in life as a soldier for Jesus Christ.
Soldiers are tough. They endure suffering. They undergo discipline to make them stronger, more battle-ready. They serve at the pleasure of their commander and fight for king and country. And those of us who are citizens of that country are glad for that.
Paul says that we, too, are soldiers. And what is true of a real soldier ought to be true of spiritual soldiers as well. We should expect discomfort—it toughens us. We should leverage hardship to make us battle-ready—we’re in a very real spiritual war, after all. We ought to embrace the suffering that comes as a part of what serving at the pleasure of the Commander means. We need to reframe our thinking so as to see all of life, including persecution, rejection, and any sort of pain, along with all the wonderful benefits and blessings that outweigh them all (II Corinthians 4:17), as the privilege of soldiers fighting for another Kingdom.
And there’s one more thing Paul understood about suffering that made it endurable: The reward at the end of the battle. He knew that he, and everyone else who suffered as a Christian, would also reign with Christ.
It takes a “long view” of life to see it that way, but what a great motivation we have, if we suffer with Christ, and we endure for Christ. If we persevere and overcome as soldiers for Christ, we will live with Christ forever and reign in his eternal kingdom.
Reframe your thinking—your suffering now will pay off later in ways that I cannot even begin to describe. It will be worth it all.
So buck up, soldier!
Prayer… Dear Lord, you suffered so much for me, and for that I am eternally grateful. Now Lord, strengthen me to suffer redemptively—without so much as a complaint. What a privilege to be in discomfort for your sake. It is such a small price to pay to be a good soldier for you.
One More Thing… “When a man has quietly made up his mind that there is nothing he cannot endure, his fears leave him.” —Grove Patterson