The apostle Paul is my favorite character in the Bible (next to Jesus, of course.) He endured hardships that we could never imagine facing.
“He faced rejection from some of his closest friends and, even worse, by many of the churches in Asia. (2 Timothy 1:15). He had been severely beaten several times (2 Corinthians 11:24, 25). He had been shipwrecked three times (2 Corinthians 11:25). He had lived through perils in the city, in the wilderness, and at sea. He had been in peril of robbers, of heathens, and of false brethren and had endured periods of hunger, thirst, and sleeplessness (2 Corinthians 11:26, 27).”
From Sparkling Gems – by Rick Renner
Through all this adversity he kept his amazing faith. In 2 Corinthians 4:17 he wrote, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
He calls what he experienced “light and momentary troubles”? Through all my trials and tribulations I have never even come close to suffering what he did. How about you?
The truth is, all our struggles won’t matter when we come face to face with Jesus. His question to us will be, “Did you fulfill my plan for you?” He will take an account of our lives and what we did to enhance His kingdom.
Paul knew the difficulties would end and life would pass. He kept his focus on God – in EVERYTHING he did. Even during his imprisonments, he glorified God. He ran the race with only the goal of fulfilling God's plans ahead of him.
Paul wasn’t perfect. He had a thorn in his side that he couldn't remove. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 says, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (and here comes Paul’s incredible attitude) “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul writes to the Ephesians from prison and says to them, “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
Paul is imprisoned for his beliefs and what does he ask for? Prayer that he would declare the gospel fearlessly. He’s didn't beg for the Ephesians to help him and ask them to pray for his release. He wants to be sure that whenever he opens his mouth he will make known the mystery of the gospel, which is what put him in prison in the first place.
I want to be like Paul. I have a long way to go.