When painful experiences come
Five times I received the forty lashes minus one from the Jews. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea. On frequent journeys, I faced dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, and dangers among false brothers; toil and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and without clothing. Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me. 2 Corinthians 11:24-28
Can you imagine being beaten like what Paul described from the text; "several times without number"? He described the awful reality of physical abuse wherein few people will ever know such extreme pain. To top this off, Paul was pretty much alone in it all. There is no way to get around it. In this experience of Paul, God's servants often become the fall guys. When you are set out to do the task God has called you to do, your life as a Christian does not always mean that every day is going to be sweeter than the day before. In these graphic descriptions of the pain Paul went through, he felt that all the external circumstances he has been getting through would not get better. No matter where he went, he was in danger. He never got away from danger because he never got away from his devotion to Christ. Because of his total devotion to Christ and to His gospel, he cannot be stopped to speak out for Christ and his faith. If he had just shut up, played religion, stayed in the closet, and conformed to his surroundings, he would never have experienced the above difficulties. His body became a testimony to his suffering. This was what he wrote about at the conclusion of his letter to the Galatians: “From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus” (6:17). They were marks of his faithful allegiance to God and most of all he bore in his body the scars of love. Another example was the life of the prophet Daniel from the Old Testament. He was faithful, resourceful, honest, dedicated to the maximum. He served others with the right motive in his heart. Despite a life of honesty and integrity, the very people he worked with turned on him. “Daniel distinguished himself above the administrators and satraps because he had an extraordinary spirit, so the king planned to set him over the whole realm. The administrators and satraps, therefore, kept trying to find a charge against Daniel regarding the kingdom” (Daniel 6:3-4). His detractors were set out to prove he lacked integrity. This is hurtful; calling into question your words, your actions. You have been committed to God that you will live glorifying Him and to provide a model of authenticity. So you have devoted yourself to helping others and honoring the Lord . . . and this is the thanks you get. Just like Daniel and Paul, it takes the grace of the almighty God for us to press on despite the difficult circumstances we are going through. We need His grace so we could accept His plan over our own.
Noel De Guzman