Paul an apostle of Jesus along with all other servants of the Lord in the Bible faced suffering. But what I’m astonished by is the persecution they faced and what they thought about it. Did they blame God for their suffering? No. They accepted it as part of their journey. It was inevitable because they were doing the work of the Lord. They understood that their was a fight in the spiritual world much bigger than they imagined. It’s unseen but it’s ugly and it comes with a battle.
The fight for Paul was “a thorn in his flesh” given by SATAN himself which was to keep him from becoming conceited….. that part to me is interesting. Prior to becoming Paul he was Saul. If you study about Saul the very thing he struggled with the most was being prideful. Prior to his transformation in truly coming to know the heart of Jesus~he persecuted the Christians. It makes me wonder if this “thorn in his flesh” was the way God kept him humble after he became a servant of the Lord. The word of God says he begged the Lord to have it removed as it continued to Torment him.
But look at what the Lord says….
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 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.”
I am blown away by this. It shows me that the wilderness that we face, persecutions, diseases, storms and difficulties are indeed a part of our journey. We are not excused from suffering because we are Christians.
Likewise, we will be tormented by SATAN all the more. BUT the beauty behind suffering is the power of Jesus which is made known through our weaknesses.
So some may ask does God want us to suffer? No, I don’t believe that. I believe the devil wants us to suffer bc we are doing the work of the lord. We live in a sinful world where evil exists and because of the fall we live in an imperfect world. Hurting people hurt people if they do not have freedom. The devil hates that we are striving to do the work of the Lord despite the storms in life. So he uses calamities and sin to try and get us to stop “persevering” and to stop fighting.
So then why does God not remove that suffering from us? If he doesn’t remove it then he is the cause of it right? NO. The word of God says he has a purpose and a plan for us. It is NOT to harm us but to give us HOPE and a future.
Then why do we suffer? Because suffering produces endurance, it builds character and what Paul says here is it, “DEFEATS” the Devil in a very powerful way when we continue to STAND despite life’s calamities. When we STAND in Christ’s strength it defeats the enemy. It causes an uproar in heaven from all the Saints as it shows that when we are weak we can be 💪 in Christ.
We are in an unseen battle that is ongoing but the question is what are we doing not in our strength but in the Lords strength? What are we doing to bring Glory to the Lord despite the “thorn in our flesh”? What is our storm that we have overcome in the name of Jesus like Paul? What weaknesses can we boast about simple because we know it brings Glory to the Lord? What are we doing to bring Glory to the Lord despite the “thorn in our flesh”? Are we continuing to focus on loving others, being kind, showing others the love of Jesus? Or is our focus on our suffering? This hit home for me because our focus can be the “thorn” or our focus can be to conquer and continue healing in Christ Jesus. Our focus can be all that we continue to suffer or it can be shining to influence more people to find freedom through Christ Jesus.
I believe each one of us as a list much like the one below that we have endured much like Paul in this life. Paul did not boast of his suffering he boasted that in his weakness he continued to draw strength from the Lord and he continued to fight for light over darkness. He continued to fight for equality amongst the Gentiles and the Jews. He continued to fight for acceptance among all people. He continued to fight for love, justice and mercy.
Paul’s says, “I have been flogged more severely,(R) and been exposed to death again and again.(S) 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes(T) minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods,(U) once I was pelted with stones,(V) three times I was shipwrecked,(W) I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews,(X) in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city,(Y) in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.(Z) 27 I have labored and toiled(AA) and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food;(AB) I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.(AC) 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak?(AD) Who is led into sin,(AE) and I do not inwardly burn?30 If I must boast, I will boast(AF) of the things that show my weakness.(AG) 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever,(AH) knows(AI) that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me.(AJ) 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.(AK)”
My Journey to Yours,