2 Timothy 1:8
8 “So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.”
Here in this verse, we are encouraged to remain faithful to the gospel even though it may involve suffering, which in this case is persecution. As believers we have been called to a holy life, and we live a holy life by the power of God who saved us. As mentioned, part of this life in Christ also means that we will suffer for the gospel. Our American culture often makes us believe that the goal in our lives is to be happy. We tend to worship activity and happiness, in hopes that we will somehow feel fulfilled. But the gospel is different. The gospel means that we might not feel happy in our circumstances all of the time because we may suffer rejection or ridicule for our faith. Sometimes suffering for Jesus means we don’t get that neat opportunity to do something. Sometimes suffering for Christ means we humble ourselves, giving up something we really wanted in this world, for something that would make us more Christ-like in our character and free to do more for His kingdom. Our American culture is becoming more hostile to the gospel and the church. This will test our willingness to stand out for Christ, knowing we may suffer rejection in doing so.
Take heart and be encouraged. As Christ followers, we will have trouble in this world (see John 16:33) and we will suffer for the sake of the gospel. How we respond to the pain of rejection or persecution makes all the difference in how Christ is seen in us. If we respond like Jesus did with love and forgiveness toward those crucifying Him, it may cause our persecutors to see the power of God in our lives and turn to Him as some of those who persecuted Christ did. This is why Paul challenged Timothy in today’s verse. He didn’t want Timothy to shrink away in shame when suffering and lose his testimony for Christ.
Has Jesus ever used what you have learned from your difficult experiences to bring comfort and encouragement to others so they won’t be tempted to hide their faith when suffering? Have you been able to share your faith with someone through your suffering? What was the result of this?