Face Fear with a View of Eternity

Paul knew he didn’t have much time left. Every previous appeal had failed. He knew he’d be in front of Nero. And he knew that in that short amount of time he’d convey the Gospel message. This wasn’t the way to win his freedom. At least, not his earthly freedom. Paul must have felt some fear. However, he didn’t let it control him. Instead, he wrote this to his son in the faith:

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up 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 loved his appearing. – 2 Timothy 4:6-8, ESV

Paul knew what lay ahead. He had lived his life after conversion with a steadfast devotion to sharing the Gospel. He was called to be the apostle to the Gentiles and he lived it to the fullest. Therefore, he knew what was promised him in eternity. But note that he doesn’t just leave that promise pointing to him. He also points it at everyone who rejoices in Christ’s incarnation. Do you love that Jesus came in the form of a man and took our sins upon Himself? Then you also have a crown of righteousness reserved for you. 

There isn’t anything which can take that away. We can fear for our earthly lives, but we don’t have any reason to fear for our eternal ones or our eternal reward. Those will be delivered by God Himself and no one takes anything away from God. Even with intentional limits on His power and divinity, Jesus could not have been taken at Gethame. The Bible reminds us that He willingly laid His life down. He could have called angels but chose not to do so. He had to go to the Cross if we were to be forgiven and if those crowns of righteousness were to be fitted to our heads. Christ has ascended. Those temporary limits are gone. If His enemies couldn’t best Him during His time on earth, they most certainly cannot best Him now. Nor can they best His children and deprive them of what God has promised.

I don’t know what you may be going through. I don’t know what you’re facing. I know that the Bible has plenty of examples of people facing difficult, even life-shattering, situations. Not all of those end well from an earthly perspective. Some scenarios, like Paul’s, end in death. As a result, if our focus is only on earthly things, fear can overwhelm us. However, despite the tragedy and pain we might suffer in this lifetime, our eternal status and reward are preserved. They are protected. If we focus on those things, we can better face our fears. We can even approach death as Paul did, understanding that even in bad situations we can reveal our loving and merciful God to those who observe us. And we can quote the words of Paul as our own, because they will truly describe us.

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