God's word in today's world

When hardship comes knocking


Let’s start with a few difficult questions:

  • How much pain are you prepared to suffer for your faith?
  • How much are you prepared to be tortured for your faith?
  • Will you die for your faith?
  • Are you prepared to see your children, your loved ones, die for your faith?

I’m hesitant to attempt to answer these difficult questions; what if I’m really confronted by these issues one day?

That’s why my appreciation and respect keep growing for Paul and all those who have suffered for the Gospel before and after him.

Honestly, I don’t know if I can do it.

Just look at this wonderful testimony of Paul’s life. He truly practiced what he preached: 10That’s why I stick it out here—so that everyone God calls will get in on the salvation of Christ in all its glory.

When you read a testimony like this, you feel bad because we have so much. There’s no suffering to speak of in our easy insignificant lives. We’re part of a wonderful community of believers where we can openly worship God. Nobody even notices when we drive to the church building on Sundays and loudly and openly worship God.

We don’t have to feel bad about this. Some are called to suffer for their faith. Fortunately, we are called in a different time and place. We should actually thank God that we’re not being persecuted. We must praise Him for being allowed to worship Him openly.

However, the story of Paul’s suffering and the way that he held onto his assignment and allowed nothing to derail him must be a motivation to us. We shouldn’t be satisfied with a lukewarm or watered-down faith. Because who would ever admire and also want to possess such a faith?

Paul’s faith holds firm in the face of real hardship and serves to encourage other believers to keep holding on and keep believing. Lukewarm or watered-down faith doesn’t attract anybody. On the contrary, it pushes people away from God.

Paul was called to tell the world about the Gospel. He did this very successfully and his faith encouraged and motivated people to believe too. This is our calling too, even if we don’t suffer. Thank you, God!

The problem is that when things go well with us, we don’t need God anymore. We’re doing very well on our own and our faith in God slips out by the back door. And our faith becomes watered-down.

And the devil feels quite happy.

That’s why Paul’s suffering and that of others must encourage us to make sure that our faith stays strong. Then it can encourage others to also believe in God.

When suffering comes knocking on the front door, are we ready and strong enough to stand firm against it?

Scripture
2 Tim 2:8-13

Reflection
How deep is your faith?
Will others follow God as a result of your faith?
What alternative is there?

Prayer
Jesus, You gave your life for sinners like me. I’m not strong enough on my own to do the same. People and circumstances often make it hard for me to follow your example. I’m prepared to try, if You’re with me. Amen.

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