But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come. – 2 Timothy 3:1.
A woman who was a child during the Vietnam War remembered after the September 11 attack what it was like for her during those dangerous times. She remembers her mother telling her to listen for the “click.” The noise her mother called the “click” was soon followed by jets screaming across the sky dropping bombs and the bone shaking explosions. If you heard the “click” you knew what was going to happen and you ran for whatever cover you could find.
We do not know what is going to happen next and there is great uncertainty and anxiety not only in the United States but also across the world. We do not know what is going to happen but we suspect that it will not be good. How do we go on with life, what are we to do during such uncertain times? The apostle Paul gives Timothy some advice, which is very much applicable to our lives today. There are at least four things that we need to apply to our lives as we move into the future listening for the “click.”
First, we need to continue on with the work of God putting the supernatural gifts we have been blessed with to work. The apostle says in 2 Timothy 1:6, “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God….” Now is not the time to huddle in our foxholes. Now is the time to move forward for the Kingdom of God. There have always been wars upon planet earth and peace is the exception instead of the rule. Now is the time to step forward in service to our Lord.
Second, we must not let our fears disable us from living the Christian life. Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Fear has already had a huge negative impact on the economy of the world. In the United States hundreds of thousands of people have joined the ranks of the jobless since September 11. The travel industry has been devastated and the effects will eventually be felt throughout the economy. Another translation of 2 Timothy 1:7 says in part, “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice….” It will take courage for us to live during these perilous times but God will provide the power, love, and sound mind that we need to be courageous in the face of the effect of evil.
Third, we must be willing to suffer for those who need our help. Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:8, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God.” During these difficult times we must take up our cross, deny ourselves and follow our Lord (Luke 9:23). The Christian life is not just about the blessings that God gives to us, or the wonderful way that we feel when we worship Him, or the fellowship we have with other Christians. Sometimes we are called upon to go beyond the skin deep Christianity and share in the sufferings for the gospel in order to help those who so desperately need our help.
Fourth, we need to trust God for what will happen next. Paul shares with Timothy, “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day (2 Timothy 1:12).” He is “able” and as we move into the future listening for the “click” let us remember to continue serving, continue living, take up our crosses and trust God for what comes next.
(Whether what happens next in our lives is good or bad – we must continue to trust our God.)