“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” ~ II Timothy 2:3
Ever since I was a teenager, I have been intrigued by the American Civil War. I’m not alone: every year millions of people visit Civil War battlefields, including thousands of foreign tourists. Over the past couple of years, I have had the opportunity to visit the battle fields of Gettysburg and Antietam, where a combined total of 75,000 American soldiers lost their lives. For the soldier, the battles were not the only horrific part of the war — the hardships of daily life as a soldier in the field camps were equally horrific: far away from home & loved ones, constant drilling, often under-fed and under-clothed, future battles looming on the mind, regularly sickened by disease that came from the unsanitary condition of the camps (where just as many soldiers died from disease as they did from battle). Even so, young men on both sides of the conflict endured these every-day hardships so they could fight for a cause they believed in.
On occasion, the Bible uses military terminology to describe some aspect of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. II Timothy 2:3 is one such instance. In this verse were are told that we, “must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ;” Hardship that is specifically unique to a life as a disciple of Jesus Christ. It is the daily hardship of things like discouragement, difficult people, unanswered prayer, coupled with the hard work of service, ministry and witness that over time can cause the disciple to dream of going AWOL. But this war isn’t won by those who run! We are fighting for something we believe in: The Gospel of Jesus Christ! Therefore, as the verse says, we “must endure hardship…” and that we can do only through the power & strength available to us in the Holy Spirit through daily reading & reflecting upon God’s word (the Bible) coupled with earnest prayer. If I could only convince you of one thing, it would be the truth of that last sentence.