I have a twelve-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old son, and we have reached that challenging time when animated children’s movies no longer cut it. We are in the transition to more mature content, and sometimes that means some scary parts in the films.
I have to be honest, though. My kids are not the issue when it comes to the fear factor. That is all me. I absolutely dislike scary movies and scary parts in movies. I have discovered a little secret strategy that makes watching them a lot less stressful. I turn down the volume! Have you ever noticed that what is scary is not what you are watching but what you are hearing? It is the music and the sound effects that heighten your fear, not the scary zombie running down the alleyway chasing after a teenager.
When Life Is Like Fear Factor
2 Timothy 3:1 is one of those scary sorts of Bible verses. Paul writes: “You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times” (NLT). My advice for this part of the passage is not to turn down the volume but rather to turn it up and allow the alarming content to give you a little shake. To maybe open your mind to the fear factor.
When the Apostle Paul writes about difficult times in the last days, he was talking about the very times we find ourselves living in.
The word “difficult” comes from a term that was used to talk about a wild animal on a rampage or about a ship at sea during a dangerous storm. In other words, Paul is teaching his young pastoral protege that there will be people and circumstances that come against you.
Following Jesus involves navigating through a complex maze of relationships and circumstances, none of which guarantee comfort or safety. These were important words from Paul to his true son in the faith. It was important that he equipped Timothy for the real world.
Many people think about Bible verses like this in terms of grandiose apocalyptic images. As soon as we hear the words “last days,” we kind of check out, or we check in with a strange obsession on the Bible’s timeline and God’s plan for wrapping up the story of history.
Here, Paul’s teaching and words are down-to-earth, practical, and truthful. To a young leader trying to establish himself in Christian ministry, there are important lessons. The challenge of ministry, whether as a vocation or a volunteer, is that our difficulties will come from people and from circumstances. People can be as dangerous as wild animals on a rampage, and circumstances can be as challenging as a storm at sea. This is the reality of gospel life.
People can be as dangerous as wild animals on a rampage, and circumstances can be as challenging as a storm at sea. This is the reality of gospel life.
The same is true of our calling as men, as fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and friends. It is an adventure of action-packed challenges, ups and downs, real relationships with conflict and healing, real circumstances, some good and some bad. It is not only our job to navigate these experiences. It is our calling to equip others to do the same.
Paul was writing from a dungeon prison in Rome, awaiting his execution, alone and struggling and missing Timothy. This is a good word to us. Even in our difficult times, we can pour into the lives of others. And often, what we pour is our story of challenge and God’s faithfulness in it. Let us use our life experiences to prepare and equip our brothers for theirs.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me the wisdom to instruct others. Help me to see opportunities when my journey can equip my brothers for theirs. Give me the courage to face the storms of life and to teach my community how to trust you in the midst of them.