Try God’s Blueprint for Restful Living
Do you feel like Lot? He’s Abraham’s nephew who lived in Sodom and Gomorrah. How could we possibly identify with him?
Peter explains that Lot was “vexed” by the wickedness surrounding him in Sodom and Gomorrah (2 Peter 2:6–8). The word translated as “vexed” in verse 7 carries the idea of being exhausted and worn down. Do you feel that way when you try to absorb all the bad news you hear? Verse 8 reveals Lot’s vexation was a continuous, daily experience. It tortured his soul living in Sodom and Gomorrah. The tragedies and wickedness around us make us long for deliverance.
Millions of people identify with this feeling. Some call it “news fatigue.”
Every time I check the news, I am reminded of the chaos that constantly surrounds us. Tragic wildfires in Hawaii and Western states claimed lives and destroyed homes. The war between Russia and Ukraine approaches 600 days. Earthquakes, pandemics, and severe weather threaten our sense of safety and security. Drugs, violence, and theft fill local news headlines around America.
If that isn’t enough, the daily political upheaval reports frustrate and exhaust us.
Stories we hear of moral depravity deepen our vexation. Schools have become an ideological battleground for gender identity and sexual orientation. Sexual perversion and rampant divorce erode families.
Everywhere you look, sin seems to be having a heyday.
I’ve not even mentioned the “news fatigue” caused by issues within the church like false teachers spreading a false gospel and churches that fall into apostasy.
One word explains how I feel when I consider the burden all this bad news brings—ugh! Is there a way to escape this weighty burden? Some recommend unplugging from all news. That might be helpful for a season, but it is not a long-term solution.
We need to keep our eyes open to what is happening around us and we must fix our eyes on Jesus. How can we do that?
God’s Word gives us a blueprint for living in the midst of a vexing world. Let’s look at 2 Timothy 3 to find solutions.
Rest in What God Will Do
This chapter begins with a serious warning: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Tim. 3:1). Paul warns Timothy of the attitudes that will infiltrate the church. After he reveals the difficult days ahead, he reminds Timothy to place his focus on Jesus. The first reminder is to rest in what God will do.
In verse 9, Paul reveals what will happen to the false teachers, “But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.” God knows how to expose those who oppose His truth and attempt to lead His children astray. Ultimately, they will one day stand before God, as Judge, to answer for their sin, but Paul speaks of the exposure of their lies in this lifetime.
The Holy Spirit brings discernment into the minds of believers. I once heard this described as a “baloney meter.” For example, when a new Christian with little training in God’s Word hears false teaching, they instinctively know something just isn’t right. Their “baloney meter” is going off. It is really the Holy Spirit alerting them to falsehood.
Some smooth-talkers can take bits of truth and mix them with lies to make something appear so good when it is really poison. The serpent used the same tactic with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden! He took a bit of truth and mixed it with a lot of lies. Since it appealed to Adam and Eve’s fleshly desires, they swallowed the fruit. They did not realize how big a hook was wrapped inside that tantalizing bait.
The proliferation of lies in our culture wearies us. However, we rest in the fact that God hears the lies and knows how to expose falsehoods. He has promised that eternal judgment will come upon all liars (Rev. 21:8). God will not stand idly by and watch false teachers lead His children astray.
God invites us to speak His truth in love (Eph. 4:15). God’s truth is the greatest treasure on Earth. We cannot afford to let it be hidden by lies. That leads us to the second reminder.
Rest in What God Is Doing
Paul doesn’t sugarcoat it for Timothy, “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). That doesn’t sound very “restful” does it? Right before Paul penned these words, he wrote about his personal persecutions and remarked, “But out of them all the Lord delivered me” (2 Tim. 3:11b).
Paul understood suffering would come. That is part of life in this sinful world. Standing for the truth will come with a cost. However, Paul knew the reward was far greater than the cost. Elsewhere he wrote, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17). How could Paul regard his suffering as momentary and light? He compared it to the greater eternal glory he would share in.
An eternal perspective gives us endurance amidst a bad-news world. He further explained, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). This is what fixing our eyes on Jesus looks like.
Don’t let the bad news rob you of what God is doing in our world right now. Look around you and consider what God is doing in today’s world. This bad-news world will push us toward ungratefulness. Intentionally thank God for His blessings in your life and the evidence of His grace you see around you.
Paul was full of joyful praise no matter what he was going through. An eternal perspective will give us the strength to push through in this sinful world.
Rest in What God Has Done
How do we handle the growth of evil? Continue to rest in what God has done (2 Tim. 3:13–15). Paul instructs Timothy to continue in the truth he has learned from God’s Word. This is a powerful open secret to restful living in the last days.
The cure for today’s nonsense is a strong dose of God’s wisdom. The Bible exposes the world’s wisdom so that we can recognize it for the nonsense that it is. Forgive me for being blunt. Biblical illiteracy is the leading cause of restlessness among followers of Jesus today.
If we do not know God’s character, then we cannot live at rest. Lasting peace comes only from knowing the One who is peace. The more we know how great and how good He is, the easier it is to rest in Him.
You see, your faith is only as good as the object you place it in. If I try to sit in a rickety old chair that wobbles, I will be cautious and my confidence will be shaken. However, if I sit in my favorite chair, I know I will rest comfortably and confidently. While my analogy is limited, I hope it helps. God is far greater than a favorite chair. We should rest comfortably and confidently in His character. When has He ever broken a promise?
Paul makes it clear that the object of our faith is Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15). When we know Him, we can rest confidently that our salvation is secure. We can look forward to our “blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
When fear threatens to steal your joy, remember who Jesus is and what He has done for you. Rest in the fact that you are His.
Rest in What God Has Said
As this powerful passage continues, Paul details how God’s Word will equip us for life in the last days. In this context, we find one of the best-known verses of the New Testament. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).
How can God’s Word navigate us through these perilous times? Paul gives four ways in this verse. Imagine we are on a road trip. We need to know which roads to take to arrive at our destination. That’s doctrine. Sometimes we take a wrong turn and stray from the path we should be on. Just like a map (or that pesky GPS voice) reveals we took a wrong turn, so, too, God’s Word reproves us when we step outside God’s boundaries. Nothing is much more frustrating for me than when I get turned around in unfamiliar territory. There is no rest or peace in those moments.
The amazing truth is God’s Word doesn’t just reprove us, it also corrects us to get us back on the right path, like a helpful navigation system. Once I return to the right road, I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing I’m heading the right way. I’m glad God offers us correction along the way. Lastly, the map reveals each turn we need to take to arrive at the destination. God’s Word provides this “instruction in righteousness” so we can walk closely with Jesus along this journey.
What happens when we rest in God’s truth amid perilous days? We grow to spiritual maturity and we are well-equipped for all good works. In other words, we are ready to make a difference in the lives of others as we live at rest during chaotic times.
Dwell upon the words of Jesus:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matt. 11:28–29).