A Change of Horizon
Thanks be to You, O God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (see 1 Cor. 15:57).
Read 2 TIMOTHY 1:8-18
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
How stunning, how wonderful that God has destroyed death and birthed unassailable life and victory through the finished work of Jesus!
There’s a persistent note in Second Timothy. We may wish it simply weren’t there. “But join with me in suffering for the gospel by the power of God” (8). How many times Paul tells Timothy that he is not a passenger on a leisure cruise; he is a soldier on a battleship (1:8,12,15; 2:3,9,12; 3:11,12; 4:5). One is reminded of the piercing words of Winston Churchill on May 14, 1940, when he first spoke as Prime Minister: “I would say to the house: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” The Battle of Britain had begun. Paul wants Timothy to know that he is a soldier for Christ; the flesh, the world and the devil are committed adversaries.
Paul points Timothy (and us) beyond the fear of suffering to bring us to a reasoned balance. We don’t have to slink through suffering with a resigned stoicism or search for the path of least resistance. Suffering is not for naught. There is glory to be found within it. We have the power of God (8). We have a salvation, a calling and grace which grips us from before the dawn of time (9). We have a Lord who has abolished death (10). Death, where is your victory? Where is your sting? Suffering is part of serving Christ; but it is no longer nearly so intimidating.
Robert Louis Stevenson developed a lung disease which plagued him to his death. One day his wife Fanny could not take his courageous demeanor. She said: “How is it you can be so cheerful as you cough your life away?” He smiled. “I refuse to allow this row of medicine bottles to be the horizon of my life.” Our horizon has been changed forever. What we hold is the priceless treasure and the non-negotiable truth of the Gospel.
What daily patterns and disciplines keep you seeing what is beyond this world? What keeps you growing in Christ, not shrinking?
Lord Jesus, help me to keep my hope on what is unseen, and be alive to Your power, exercised from before the dawn of time.