When I first read this passage I was awestruck. The verse above is a summary of Paul’s actual experience in the service of Jesus. Paul suffered enough for twenty lifetimes during his earthly ministry. And that was with Jesus! Whenever you think you are having a hard time or that something feels a bit unfair or totally unjustified, read this passage which contains a list of dangers and punishments that Paul gladly suffered in his ministry. Paul expects us to encounter hardship and suffering for Jesus. As a christian who reads and obeys God’s word, if you are not coming in to contact with opposition ever, then perhaps you should refer back to the word and refresh your commitment. I am not saying we should seek suffering, I am saying we should not let fear of suffering stop us from carrying out that which God requires of us.
2 Corinthians 11:22-30 NLT
Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger? If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am.
Once again, I find myself encouraged in a time of difficulty, by the the power of the scriptures. Paul is one of my all time heroes in the Bible. Today’s passage is one of the reasons why. My goal is to take real consolation in Paul’s suffering. He endured so much and yet he was always able to act in love and with the authority of God. He wasn’t afraid of evil men just because they had beaten and tortured him many times, because he had survived each time. He wasn’t afraid of the elements because he had been through the worst conditions and always survived… If Paul could live in total obedience and faith despite all the terrible things that happened to him and were done to him, then perhaps I could try a little harder to obey Jesus’s teachings with a renewed faith, a little more sincerely, despite the looming threats I can’t help but fear.
Isaiah 6:1-7:25, 2 Corinthians 11:16-33, Psalms 54:1-7, Proverbs 23:1-3