We all face tough times, it’s a part of living in a fallen world. Hardship has many different faces: relational hurt, sickness, grief, persecution, etc.; to quote Peter, grief in many different trials. When Paul talks about his own personal problem set, how he faces them and how they look in his life are quite remarkable. Bear in mind, he’s talking about beatings and imprisonments; basically being left half dead for his witness to the Gospel.
Right off the bat, Paul says he faces trials with purity, patience and kindness. Isn’t it tempting, when the storms come, to abandon our core personal convictions? Not a chance, says Paul: that’s when we need them the most. Tough circumstances are not an open door to forego our fundemental values. This is when the outside needs to note that your faith is real and that you’re not a hypocrite.
Paul says he relies on the Holy Spirit and the power of God. If you’re tempted to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, let your pride go. Christ lives in us through His Spirit; it is His life in us that supplies our strength. How is all this fleshed out? In sincere love. God’s agape love, present to empower you and show others there is something distinctly different about you. And never forget that God does not leave you with an inadequate tool set: with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left…you have what you need when running offense or defense! Stand on the promises of God, and remember, He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor will I forsake you.’
Does it look pretty? Never. Dying, yet we live. Wow – have you ever felt that way? The emotional hurt…the physical pain…it’s so bad, you feel like you’re dying. And yet, we live on, ready to serve Him another day. Sorrowing, yet always rejoicing. I love this one. Sorrowful on so many levels in this broken world, yet, we are always rejoicing. How is this so? You may feel crushed by an avalanche of sorrows, but, you have a future hope. I love these juxtapositions in Scripture: I may feel knocked down, but my joy stems from the hope that resides within. Poor, yet making many rich. You may feel mowed down by your past experiences, but how God helps you in those experiences is exactly what enables you to, in turn, help others. You may not have a dime to your name, but you are rich in Spirit. Having nothing, yet possessing all things. Get the picture? Your bank account does not define you. What defines you is your spiritual heritage: blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus!
Keep all these in mind when you pass through deep waters. I love Paul’s perspective through it all: we commend ourselves to others in every way…so our ministry will not be discredited…through great endurance. Paul knew his great calling was to serve and honor his Lord. As such, his perspective in his trials was that he wanted to remain faithful to Christ above all else, letting them see the beauty of his Savior in the times he felt most squeezed by his circumstances.
May God bless you and supply you abundantly in your time of need.
- Pastor Colin