But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:5 (NIV).
It’s tough to keep our heads in all situations. It’s a tough thing to get attacked for what you believe, who you are, the way you comport your faith and not respond in kind, lash out, seek retribution or revenge. Paul reminds Timothy to keep his head and NOT respond in kind when people attack him. It’s good advice that applies equally to us down through the ages.
Make no mistake: God did not create us to be miserable. He didn’t create us to always “take it” and be beaten down so others can puff themselves up. Instead, He created us to be in communion with Him, to share Him, to trust Him. Paul knew that meant Timothy would be attacked, ridiculed, even persecuted because Paul had personally experienced these things. Yet Paul advised his protégé to keep his head, to endure these hardships knowing that Jesus was with him in Spirit; knowing that Jesus had endured much worse out of love for Timothy AND those who would do that persecuting.
In survival training, they teach you to keep your head, to keep focused and not try to win a battle of wits. You can win a battle of wills, but only if you keep your head about you even when things get bad. If you read about Louis Zamperini, you find that, in the worst days as a POW (in Imperial Japan), he kept his head. He hated what he was going through, and he didn’t understand why he was singled out for particularly cruel torture, but he kept his head, sought peace, even occasionally sought God. Many years later, when Zamperini became a believing Christian, he realized that God had been with him throughout his imprisonment and had kept him through such hardship for the life he would now lead. Millions of people were encouraged by Louis’ story. If you haven’t read or seen “Unbroken,” do it.
This is part of the life we choose when we choose to accept Christ’s invitation. He doesn’t force us, and He doesn’t hide it from us that we will endure hardships for His sake. In fact, Jesus reminds us that, if we are to follow Him honestly, we must embrace the hardships, take up our sufferings for His sake, and follow His example. In the middle of it, He will always be with us, always encouraging us to love instead of hate, to forgive instead of nursing grudges, to seek understanding instead of festering anger. Even when it’s tough to keep our heads, our wits, about us, Jesus promises us that He will help us overcome in the ways that matter most.
For further reading: Acts 21:8, Ephesians 4:11, Matthew 16:24, 2 Timothy 4:6
Lord Jesus, help me endure and overcome today!