Commanded to Suffer
November 21, 2008
“Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” 2
In a culture that preaches instant gratification, aspirin for
every headache, and a health-and-wealth gospel, the command from
Paul to Timothy hits us like a slap in the face: “Suffer
hardship with me!”
Suffer hardship? Why would I want to do that? I want to avoid
suffering at all costs, thank you very much!
But Paul knew that the Church was at war in the world against
the forces of darkness, and by extension, each Christian was a
soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers are not in the army to sit idly
by, munching popcorn and watching movies. They are there to do
battle … and both the preparation for battle and the battle
itself entail significant hardship. A true soldier accepts this
Consider just a few of the hardships a soldier must endure:
trains rigorously to achieve his top physical condition.
- He studies the enemy’s tactics.
- He enters enemy territory.
- He experiences physical pain and emotional stress.
- He risks his life for a greater cause.
Each of the above points has a spiritual corollary to the Christian
life. Examine yourself and honestly answer these questions:
- Am I
in top spiritual condition? How am I doing in each of the spiritual
disciplines (prayer, study, meditation, worship, giving, etc.)?
Where do I need to strengthen myself?
- Am I practicing discernment every
day about what is going on around me? Do I know where danger
areas lie – in my
relationships, in what I hear on TV, in my own thought patterns,
in my church life, etc.?
- Am I willing to take the fight into the enemy camp? Confront
sin in my own life, or in the lives of others? Volunteer with
organizations on the front line of missions, justice, or peace?
- Am I willing
to undergo need, deprivation, pain, and stress if that is what
it takes to accomplish God’s will?
- Am I willing to die for Jesus Christ?