2 Timothy 2:8-13: Remember Christ, Risen from Death

Scour what life experience teaches us. Do we not secure gnarled callouses, discovering ourselves never far estranged from life’s combat? Suppose someone grows in understanding from his vicious and searing experiences, not enraged or bitter. From these, wisdom is born from those scars we carry, a grit now tempered by compassion. Those same hands will caress loved ones with gentler delight, not the brutality of hand.

Oh, how we wish not to learn best in the cauldron of our crucible. Strange, then, when we impose upon ourselves a false reality, defying experience and preferring another narrative. So, when God proclaims His Word is not bound but free, we might misunderstand this to mean God guarantees us a life empty of troubles. Not so. In whatever plight we dwell, His divine message will still ring true and unbounded though affliction may assail us.

No matter, we prefer to ignore His plain-spoken biblical truth. Only through much trial and tribulation do we enter our Father’s heavenly kingdom (Acts 14:22). Should we suppose otherwise in this sin-encrusted creation? No, we should not. The Scriptures are straightforward—sorrow’s toil and catastrophe often mark our path to glory, which God uses for our eternal well-being. These are facets of life fumbling in a fallen reality, not a capricious God. So expect trouble and struggle.

Give thought to Paul, who evangelized across ancient lands, suffering for the sake of God’s life-giving Word.

Beyond count, I suffered floggings, languished in prison, and faced death. On five occasions from the Jews, I received forty lashes minus one. Three times, I endured beatings with rods, once stoned by others. Thrice shipwrecked, adrift on the open sea for a day and night…. Often hungry and thirsty, without food, and shivering and naked. [2 Corinthians 11:23-25, 27]

So Paul wrote. Despite his many hardships, he counted himself fortunate. Why? Well, God called him to preach the Gospel—the power bringing salvation to everyone who believes—whether Jew or Gentile. Nothing, Paul preached, can strip us of the Almighty’s love, made real in His Son, our Lord.

Contemplate Jesus, a man of sorrows whose life became a torment of pain. Though He ministered to both prince and pauper, His hand-picked disciples betrayed and denied Him. Innocent, the Pharisees still connived to ruin Him. “Let Him suffer crucifixion,” Pilate’s sentence of judgment rang out, leaving Jesus to face the lonely cross of death. In the throes of agony, He expired His last. “My God, why do You abandon me?”

So, struggling with strife isn’t a newfound adversity thrust upon God’s chosen. Forget not Christ, and endure. Persevere through your lofty peaks of success and your disheartening depths of defeat. Hang on as you hold on to your Redeemer’s faithfulness. Isn’t Jesus your strength and song, your salvation? Nothing can separate you from His love.

Remember Jesus, raised from the dead. Though trials beset him, he sought to do His Father’s bidding. “Not my will,” His prayer arose. “No, Yours, dear Father.” Much He bore from His own who should have cherished Him most. Mocked and spit upon, beaten and tortured, He spoke no word in anger nor returned malice for malevolence. In His most menacing hour, He yet remained faithful.

For us, God carried out His plan for salvation on this earth’s unforgiving and barren wood. The Son, Jesus, brought forth in sacrifice, surrendered to save this weeping world, which wept no more over sin. The resurrection proclaims life and victory for you and me, the redeemed and reconciled. No longer servants of sin and death, now abiding glory is our prize. The Grace-Bestower dispels our dreariness and casts His beams of benevolence into our darkest corners.

Recall Jesus and find resilience when you struggle. “In this world,” He sounded the alarm, “you will suffer. Yet, be brave, for I overcame the world” (John 16:33). This means Jesus reaches well into our distant edges to restore us. Though our vigor evaporates and our hope wilts as a fragile flower, He is still our staff and stay.

Consider Paul, if you dare. Did he not withstand hardship for the Gospel and keep the faith? Such devastating disappointments befell him. A fellow worker, Demas, forsook him and fled to Thessalonica. Another, Alexander, a coppersmith, turned away from Christ, too soon opposing Paul. At one point, “nobody came to Paul’s defense, but everyone deserted” him. Unchanged and unwavering, Paul still pressed on and remained steadfast.

How? “The Lord stood with [him] and strengthened [him],” he writes later in 2 Timothy. Isn’t this the same for us? Yes, God stands with us and fortifies us. In battle thick, when weary and discouraged, God bolsters us to bear arms in the noble fight of faith.

Endure—who can? Is perseverance easy? A bravest challenge for the greatest of saints, so what of us, mere mortals and underlings, flawed and fragile? Such trustworthy talk of endurance, of standing tall for Christ, sounds magnificent. Yet, when despair devours us, betrayal double-crosses, or we confront the choice of keeping a job by twisting the truth, we stumble and falter.

Each comes with his failings and flaws, weaknesses and vulnerabilities. A slab’s worth is inborn, the rest resulting from life circumstances. Unique or universal, many of our deficiencies are significant, while an unaccounted number may surface as less so. Though other shortcomings be mere splinters, they still prick us at every turn. Inseparable, they intertwine, flowing from our sinful inheritance, impossible for us to vanquish alone.

Never forget, dear Christian, God remains faithful. Though His people’s moods leap and whip, God does not shatter His Covenant or demolish His promises, keeping them for His chosen. Only recount Israel’s wild and rowdy history for proof. From Abraham to Moses into Jesus’ day, God’s people doubted and wavered, turning their backs on God, rejecting His Laws, and ignoring His prophets. Yet, the promised Messiah came.

Sometimes, we are ungrateful and oblivious to the God who saves us. In our self-centered wanderings, meandering and aimless, we become numb to His call. Still, His love stays true. Though we fall into the pit of doubt and fear, devoted to His people, He will lift us with wings as an eagle. “This wine is my blood of the New Covenant, poured out for many, for sin’s forgiveness.”

So few, our years finish, as this wicked world continues its coursings. Around every corner, death lurks—our miserable, inevitable fate as fallen creatures. Still, we persist through the gift and power of Jesus’ triumph. Yes, He conquered the grave, bringing light to our darkness. Today, His resurrection echoes through the ages, proclaiming His victory and forever changing our lives.

In Baptism, the belief-breathing Spirit buried us with Christ into His death. Did an act of your choosing lay you in the tomb with Him? No, the Spirit gave you His identity as a gift—not earned through your works or merit, but only by God’s grace. In those sin-cleansing waters of mercy and love, He washes us clean, our corrupted nature no longer condemning us. Now, new creations in Christ, so we shall rise with Him in His newness of life.

So, abide when empires fall, and kingdoms lay in fields of ruin. Outlast the worst onslaught in the story’s storm, to brave the gale. Though the earth convulses and your earthly treasures crumble before you, with sadness soaking your soul, hope still beacons. Despite how dark the outside may be, you belong to Christ. In Him, eternity’s long reach shall never let you go. Yes, you can endure by God-given grace and the strength of His faithfulness.

Oh, you progeny of Adam. Embrace Jesus’ constant and everlasting promise for you, expressed in the voice of His Word. Never will He leave or forsake you. So, He comes to give you His blessing when you are faint, comfort when troubled, and peace when turmoil bedevils you. The conflict isn’t always a fight with force, nor a destiny won by swifter feet, but staying in our Lord’s unfailing fidelity to the end. The battleground lies not in your arms but in your heart.

So, pierce the silence, you glorious anthems of heaven, and stir our souls. Kindle our hearts, O saving graces. Awaken deaf ears to the sounds of our Savior’s voice and let His truth lead us. Descend with vitality, O Holy Spirit, and renew our minds. Revel, now you sainted sinner, in the hope God gives, for your Savior continues to unfold His fondest dreams for your eternal future.

Treasure the preaching of God’s faithfulness. Stronger than the morning sun, prize His pluck and endurance as His story enlightens you anew. Prevail in the proven and permanent clutches of Jesus Christ, for He is always with you. Your redemption draws nigh; closer than when you first believed. Whatever God begins, He will make perfect. So, thrive to the hour of Christ’s return, who bequeaths His crown of immortality upon you! Amen.