In 2 Timothy 3:12 the apostle Paul wrote this to his young friend Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” For many believers this means imprisonment, torture, or even death. While you may never experience that, persecution will come in other ways. It might be not fitting it with people at work or school. It could mean being passed over for promotion. You could experience tension and conflict in your family. You might be insulted and mistreated.
So the question is, when persecution comes, how will you respond? Will you become anxious or fearful? Will you become discouraged? Will you be tempted to become quiet or to compromise?
Imagine a young football player who is very frustrated over the game. He comes to his coach with tears in his eyes and says, “I’m having a big problem. When I get the ball those mean players on the other team try to stop me.” How do you think the coach would reply? He’d look that player in the eye and say, “Son, you need to understand something—this is what football is about. You shouldn’t expect anything different. What you need to do is to not crumble under that opposition. You need to be courageous, you need to stand firm. That’s how we’re going to win.”
That’s why Paul tells Timothy—and us—what he does in this letter. You need to understand that will come from following Jesus. And He gives you all you need to respond right in those challenging times, as Paul reminded Timothy in that same letter, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (1:7). So be encouraged today, whatever the challenges you face, remembering that the Lord gives you grace to stand firm and to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).