Parenting is hard. Sometimes you just wonder if the day will ever end! Of course you love your kid, but it’s the crying and the diapers and the not sleeping and the teething and the gas and all the toy bins being dumped again.
“Can I get a glass of water?”
“Look at the monster I drew on the wall…with this Sharpie…”
This is the normal everyday “suffering” of a parent with little kids. We could add examples of pre-teen and teen suffering, and even parents-of-young-adult suffering.
There is also a more intense, unique suffering that comes with loss, and all sorts of other challenges and setbacks some families face due to our fallen world and sometimes the choices of others.
Nobody wants suffering. It’s the ring that we don’t want.
In the passage we are studying in this series, the mentor, Paul, is encouraging a younger man, Timothy, to be bold in his sincere faith in Jesus Christ.
While the topic of suffering is an important one, there is a specific kind of suffering that Paul goes on to mention in this passage. He speaks mainly about suffering for the sake of the gospel. He acknowledges the reality that a follower of Jesus who speaks up for Jesus and lives in such a way to honour God will, at times, suffer for their faith.
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. He has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.
2 Timothy 1:8-12 NIV
If you read the entire letter of second Timothy you will notice a recurring theme of suffering and endurance and perseverance and opposition. In fact one verse says that everyone who follows Christ will be persecuted or will suffer
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted
2 Timothy 3:12 NIV
Paul invites us as families to join him in suffering for the gospel. Verses 9 and 10 review the grace, freedom and victory that marks this good news. Then in verse 12, amid the persecution faced for declaring the good news, we hear the tone of confidence in the One he has placed his trust in.
As parents we want to fan into flame a sincere faith in our children. One of the more difficult aspects of this is acknowledging the cost for anyone who chooses to follow Christ.
This can look different for various families and individuals, but in general, it might include sacrificing certain things, not being the same as everyone else, loosing certain friends or status and often feeling awkward. It might also involve helping each other in our family learn how to have good conversations about our faith.
Around the world, Christians who boldly live the gospel and speak up about Jesus face much more harsh suffering for their faith than we do in Canada right now.
It’s a challenging reality and message to accept for adults and kids alike.
“God, give us boldness and wisdom in our families to model and teach about suffering for the gospel.”
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV
How is suffering for the gospel different than other kinds of suffering? What kinds of suffering might happen to our family members if we were more bold about living for Jesus and talking about him with others?
How does our confidence in the Gospel help us endure suffering?