This Life is a Battle
This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. 1 Timothy 1:18-19
Many times, I have imagined that believing in God would just magically make life easier. When I was a kid, I wanted God to make me an amazing athlete. I didn’t want to work harder than everyone else. I just wanted to be better. As I got older and struggled with my addiction, I wanted faith to mean that I didn’t have to work at recovery. I simply wanted a miraculous change of appetite. I know some who’ve gotten their instant miracle, but I didn’t. It took hard work, changing my life, and following God to find the new life. Even now in recovery though, I still find myself praying for the instant and miraculous way out. God, take away my appetite for junk food. Then I’ll eat better.
As I said, some people, in some specific life struggles, do find instant and miraculous change. It’s not wrong to pray for that. To sit back and do nothing though, in every struggle, simply hoping that God will instantly fix it, is not consistent with what the Bible teaches us about the Christian life. In today’s passage, Paul exhorted Timothy to wage the good warfare. This isn’t a passive command, just as the Christian life isn’t a passive life. The Christian life is a battle – one in which we must engage daily, lest we surrender by default.
For me, getting sober meant going to treatment. Staying in recovery now means that I still work at it every day. Living healthy means eating right and exercising, even on the days I don’t feel like it. Growing in faith means daily abandoning my way to follow God’s way, which I almost never naturally feel like doing.
This may sound like a miserable life. The paradox though, is that sitting back and not fighting the battle, is what truly leads to misery. I’ve followed my nature, gone with the flow, and lived for my appetite. It was the easy thing to do, but it led to absolute disaster. It was in following my way that I once lost my job and nearly my family.
Yes, living in faith and recovery is a battle, but most things in life that are worth anything are hard work. It has only been in desperately pursuing recovery and radically changing my life that I got my family back – and that is worth any amount of work. The Christian life – the new life in Christ – may be hard work, but God promises us that it is more than worth it.