Perseverance is something of a theme for us at Fixing Her Eyes this year. 2 Timothy 2 presents us with three images of perseverance as we fix our eyes on Jesus. There is the suffering soldier who pleases only his commanding officer (v.3-4), the athlete who becomes victor because she has competed according to the rules (v.5), and the hardworking farmer who will receive the first share of the crops (v.6).
But what if as you march, you are blinded by the sweat running into your eyes so you can’t see your commanding officer? What if as your feet bleed into your sneakers and your legs grow weak, you despair of reaching the finish line at all, let alone victorious? How do you face getting up tomorrow for another day of back breaking and heart rending labour? What if the words with which Paul opens this chapter — ‘be strong’ — seem more of a burden than an encouragement?
This is where I have found myself this year. My twin sister died last year, and to ‘remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead’ (v.8) has been painful. The hope that His resurrection brings — that there will be a great reunion between us — seems so far off. The hope Christ brings is distant, and so He is distant as well. He stands very far off on the horizon, a mere dot, hazy in the heat. And I am too exhausted from my labours to squint anymore. How do you fix your eyes on Jesus when He is obscured?
Or perhaps He is close, standing right next to me. But grief is like a thick fog surrounding me. Even if He were 5cm from my face, I could not see Him. His words are swallowed by the fog. Worship music pollutes the fog further and makes it harder to breathe. How do you fix your eyes on Jesus when you cannot see him at all?
As I read on in 2 Timothy 2, read that Christ will take me to reign with him (v.12). I barely believe that. It feels like the best I can do is to choose not to disown him. Even that takes effort, though perhaps it would take more to walk away. And I am tired, so I don’t.
I am faithless. And then v.13 wraps a tendril of comfort around my hopeless heart. Because it tells me that none of this depends on me: If we are faithless, he remains faithful. I am blinded, spent and debilitated, but He is not.
He was all those things, at the cross. But His Father raised Him from the dead and to glory. I am not abandoned either, because there I became His. I have nothing, not even Him. But He has me.
This is being strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus: not that I am strong, but that He is. That does not sound real to me, but it doesn’t have to. Because I am not the pioneer and perfecter of my faith: He is.
Tamie hails from Adelaide and lives in Tanzania with her husband and two sons. In partnership with CMS Australia, they work with the Tanzanian Fellowship of Evangelical Students (TAFES).