How Did Paul Endure Adversity?
As some of you saw this week, I had a medical procedure done called Dry Needling on Monday. It’s the next phase of my Post Concussion Syndrome therapy. It required needles to be inserted approximately 2.5 inches into the muscles around part of my spine and neck. This helped to break up scar tissue that had built up over time, especially from my accident, blocking blood flow to my brain and causing my nerves to frequently react in unusual and painful ways.
It was a fascinating and weird experience as my body responded in ways I didn’t know were possible. I will admit that it was very painful at certain spots and uncomfortable in others. Thankfully, the doctor warned me that I was going to be in rough shape for a few days and then would start to notice a difference. I am feeling better now and getting my energy back, which is great! I do still have some lingering aches and pains, but they are manageable. Thank you very much to everyone who saw the post and was praying for me!
“…Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?”Job 2:10
This verse came up on my personal Facebook memory from 2012 a couple of weeks ago, and has been coming to mind often since I read it again. I meditated on it as Michael and I drove to the appointment.
I had a choice to make. Was I going to panic and complain about the pain I was about to experience? Or, was I going to remind myself that it would only be temporary? As the saying goes, “No pain, no gain” right?
The more I go through these stages of therapy and slowly recovery from this injury, I’m learning that all the pain you and I face in this world is temporary. When it carries on relentlessly for years, it’s hard to see past that. But what if we could condition ourselves to look differently at our circumstances?
Therefore, we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.2 Corinthians 4:16-18
If you shaped your mind more around the eternal peace and perfection your body will experience for eternity, how much more joy and strength would you experience in the temporary? Your pain would still exist. Your body and emotions would grieve what it knows you should be like. But your spirit would find greater peace and joy knowing the “incomparable eternal weight of glory” that awaits you.
Paul didn’t exactly endure light affliction. Consider for a moment what his body went through.
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: my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?2 Corinthians 11:24-28
He must have had multiple concussions, deep skin lesions, nerve pain, headaches, frost bite, malnutrition, and more. Yet, Paul learned to be content in any circumstance. How did he do that when he was in constant pain and impending death was before him?
He remained focused. He held onto the revelation that the Lord had given him. He set his eyes on the prize of eternal life with Jesus Christ. He focused on the reward set before him in the brilliant kingdom that awaited him.
Okay, so what if you haven’t been given a revelation like Paul had? Read Revelation 21 and 22. Admire the kingdom that is coming and all the Lord describes about it. Read the book of Hebrews and learn about the King that has won the victory and the redemptive gift that awaits you because of it.
Paul also remained focused on his calling here on earth. He knew it would be much better to be in the presence of Jesus face-to-face, but he also knew that his time on earth wasn’t done. He was okay with that because he reminded himself of the work the Lord was doing. He knew the power of the cross and empty tomb, and made it his mission to share the gospel to the Gentiles so that they wouldn’t go another day without the greatest news they could ever receive. Paul counted it completely worth all of the adversity he faced to know that the gospel was being spread and lives were being transformed.
What if that was your mindset? What if you focused on the fact that your pain is temporary and you have a far greater future ahead of you? More joy would fill your heart because you’d be choosing to lay yourself down, to pick up the love, comfort, and grace of Christ, and to continue the mission He started.
It is in adversity that you find the comfort of your Living God. It is also in adversity that you are able to connect with others. If no one had any problems, there would be no understanding or reason to bond. Instead, it is through the grace of your Lord that you do. He will never give you more than you can handle. Sometimes it may feel that way, but God’s strength goes far deeper than you could imagine, which gives you the ability to endure more than you thought possible. And in that, you’re able to reach a greater number of people through your suffering. It isn’t a pleasant thought, but it is profound.
This is something I’m working on as well. It’s taken years of physical ailments to get me here. I know there are days when I’m emotionally weary from illness. But what I need to remember is that my spirit is renewing daily. I’m learning to focus on Christ and the kingdom that awaits me, and the call on my life to love the Lord, love others, and share of the precious and powerful gift He’s given to the world.
Will you join me in that? Will you be honest where you’re at in your struggles, but always seeking the Lord and His great plans for you? Look upward and allow the comfort, grace, and love of Yahweh to fill you, helping you with His vast strength and enduring whatever lies before you.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; your rule is for all generations. The Lord is faithful in all his words and gracious in all his actions. – Psalm 145:13