You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 2 Timothy 2:3 NKJV
Until recently I never completely understood this passage. Endure hardship, yeah, okay when it happens I’ll endure. Let me tell you it is harder than you might think.
The last two months have been a whirlwind of unexpected chaos. I’ll spare you all the details, but allow me to outline some of what we went through.
We had planned an all expenses paid cruise to Bahamas for just my husband and me. I looked forward to this trip with great expectation. It’s been almost 15 years since our last “alone together” trip. The weekend before our trip, out dog started having problems walking. He’s only 6 so it wasn’t like he had arthritis or something like that. Some testing at the vet revealed high calcium levels, bladder stones and various other ailments. We continued test after to test to find the cause of the high calcium. Meanwhile, the dog grew sicker, worse each day that we ended up cancelling our trip.
The bummer was the trip was a company reward and didn’t cost us anything. When we cancelled we lost the “free money”. Not only that, but I allowed the enemy’s lies to penetrate my mind with thoughts such as “the dog is more important than me.”
The timing was just terrible. My elder son has been struggling with his grades had final exams the same week of the dog crisis. I became anxious about him staying focused on his studying.
We also experienced car trouble. Not just one of our cars, but both cars needed multiple hundreds of dollars in repairs. With the dog doctor bills, the car repairs, my other son’s school tuition became due a month earlier than usual.
At work, we were planning an event which I would be facilitator. There were many late nights preparing, last minute changes which led to my unease about having an effective meeting. It also caused my family to be upset with all the late nights.
During all of this my mind was racing, my emotions were swelling, my body ached with tension. My prayer life was all about solving the problems. I began talking to everyone about all this as though I collecting all the “poor you” comments I could. I was so disappointed, angry, anxious and stressed. It sapped my ability to think straight. I could barely take care of my normal routines.
When I searched God’s Word looking for encouragement, enlightenment, resolution I found 2 Timothy 2:3. Not exactly what I had hoped for. But God knew what I needed.
These “trials” were exactly that, a trial to test my faith. I’m ashamed to say I don’t think I did very well. But God’s purposes prevailed. These difficulties revealed many things about the condition of my heart.
First, I was depending on the trip too heavily. My marriage relationship needed some work and I relied on that trip as the major step in the right direction. God led me to see other small steps I could take to improve things as I follow His leading.
Second, I discovered a hidden pride. The trip was a “Circle of Excellence” award for good work I had done the previous year. When denied the ability to use this award, prideful thoughts abound, such as “you deserved that tip” and “next time I’ll take the trip alone.” Of course this would not do. So a humbly process began.
Third, my thoughts were focused on my circumstances (things of this world) and not on God’s greatness. God gently got my attention and led me to look at my responses rather the problems. In that I could see how wrong I had been.
Fourth, I discovered I had slipped back into doing out of my own effort. I thought I had been in lock-step with the Lord. Yet my behavior and my attitudes were the warning signals telling me I drifted from walking by faith and was, in fact, walking by the flesh instead.
So whether this was a spiritual attack or not, what was meant for evil God turned around and used for good. My hope in sharing my weakness is that you may be strengthen, encouraged and lead to call on the Lord in your times of trials rather than trying to figure things out through your own understanding.
©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade. Author of ThinkOnItBibleDevotions.com and BeingWomenOfInfluence.com websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.