I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord,
the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me,
but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
2 Timothy 4:7-8
I get caught up in thinking about cause and effect way too often. This last Sunday, I talked about Hosea and Gomer, and Hosea’s response when his life fell apart, despite his faithfulness to God’s will. It’s easy to look at the injustice of the world and get upset with the Lord. Why are there faithful people who get cancer? Why are there hungry Christians in the world? Why does it seem like wicked people get rewarded while good people don’t? If God loves everyone, why is there suffering? These verses in Timothy really put those questions into a healthy frame for me. The fact is, I don’t fully know why bad things happen even to those who follow the Lord. I know bad stuff is a consequence of sin, but that still doesn’t fully answer the question. But what I DO know is that the Lord is faithful, and He loves us in spite of that sin. I also know that one day I will be able to sit in heaven with the Lord and worship Him. And because of that knowledge, in spite of the terrible things that sometimes accompany the human condition, I can use this verse as a personal goal.
When I someday go to heaven, I want my loved ones to say this about me, “He fought the good fight, he kept the faith. Now the Lord will reward him,” just like the passage above. That might sound super morbid, but think about it. Our reward is not an earthly one. We just recognized that even faithful people can be dealt a bad hand when it comes to their life on earth, but here’s the truth: everyone has the option for that eternal reward. We can see that’s true in the verse above. “But also to all who have longed for his appearing.” Not just Paul (the author of the letter) or Timothy (the receiver of it), but to ALL who long for His appearing. With every decision you make this week, let this be your goal. Even when you are faithful to God and you still don’t see your circumstance get better, remember what the real reward to faithfulness is…eternity with the Lord.