Today’s Passage: 2 Timothy 3:12-13
Enduring in the faith is not exactly a matter of living life on treadmill. Don’t get me wrong, you can exert a lot of energy on a treadmill. Anyone who has ever seen my husband workout can testify to this. He gets every ounce out any gym machine and in most cases, in the battle of man versus machine, man wins. But I digress!
Faith does not happen in controlled environments like a gym or on a path where we can turn up or turn down the speed or the incline. There is not even virtual reality when it comes to faith (do not let social media fool you!). Faith is given to us as a gift by a real God for the real world as a part of His mission to save real souls. And we nurture, grow, and live in that faith across many different landscapes in our lives.
I was listening to the song “Hills and Valleys” recently. It is a beautiful worship song; it speaks to our God of Rescue and has many lessons of praise and worship tied into the lyrics. On this most recent listen, perhaps since I am thinking about enduring in the faith in everything these days, I thought about perspective. In many ways, how we endure in the faith—in the real world—is a matter of perspective.
After recalling all the persecution God has brought him through, Paul begins this verse with “indeed.” To me, that one little word is full of rich reflection and perspective. Paul had seen a lot. And maybe he had been asked many times, “Why do bad things happen to good people like you Paul?” or “Why would God allow such persecution in your life” by those he shared his experiences with. I do not have any textual proof of this at the moment, but this one “indeed” feels like a lacuna, a gap, where Paul could have filled in so much more. Instead, he finishes the verse in a matter of fact fashion, making two declarative statements:
“…all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:12-13)
There is no equivocation here. Declaration one–Any one, everybody, all people who want to live for Christ are going to deal with persecution. That means you, that means me, no exceptions. Declaration two—Bad guys and fake good guys are going to do what they want to do, taking advantage of others and continuing to live under their own rules and their own versions of truth and morality. What’s interesting is that rather than radicalizing these ideas, Paul’s straightforward presentation normalizes them. It is almost as if he says, “Look, Timothy, it just is what it is, this is the real world.” These words speak with certainty that this is the environment our faith will be grown and cultivated in.
For me, the question then—the challenge is this:
What is going to be my perspective when the landscape changes?
When I am going up a rocky hill, will I be looking around for other climbers or looking back with worry and fear? During those hilltop moments of rest and fresh air, will I look to myself and celebrate what I did, or dig deeper in His Word and ask God to refill me for the journey ahead? When I am down in the valleys, will I look for longing at the hills or plop down in the ground and cry and throw myself a pity party?
How we navigate this journey of endurance called faith requires us to keep a godly perspective on the world around us. We must be willing to accept that some parts of our journey, even when we do not like them or they are uncomfortable, are just parts of our journey. It is wasted energy to circle the same “why me” questions over again. Similarly those parts of our journey that we might enjoy or find peaceful still require the godly perspective to ask, “God, how can I find more of you in this moment?”
No matter what I have, Your grace is enough
No matter where I am, I’m standing in Your love
—Tauren Wells, “Hills and Valleys”
Who is God to you when the landscape changes? When everything gets “real” in your faith journey?
I pray that the Lord will give me eyes to see Him and to see my path clear in the days ahead.