Push through affliction
If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. 2 Corinthians 11:30
I had a headache, and it was a bad one. I woke up that morning with it and couldn’t seem to shake it off before I was to go serve that evening. I asked the Lord for healing, and I commanded it to go away from me, but still nothing. Despite my discomfort, I didn’t consider not going. I know I could have said “It just hurts to bad; I just can’t make it tonight.” Or “Maybe it is God’s will for me to stay home tonight because I am severely uncomfortable, and I know laying down will make it feel better.” The real truth is, I know my Father’s plan for me is to impact lives and to make a difference by showing up for People. So, I went despite the pain. It was a blessed evening, and I was able to grow in some relationships and develop new ones to invest in. I never mentioned the agony I was carrying, I only stayed focus on how I could help others. When I went home after, I still had pain, in fact it was worse because I hadn’t eaten, but I didn’t even consider that I might have done the wrong thing for my own health. I knew I did the right thing for the spiritual wellbeing of so many others.
In today’s verse, Paul said that if he is going to brag about something, it would be about his weakness. Then, he goes on to give a list of circumstances that he lived through, yet he was still accomplishing much. He was often imprisoned, severely flogged (beaten), exposed to death many times, given lashes (another beating), pelted with stones, shipwrecked, left to drowned in the sea, sleepless nights, robbed, working continuously, hungry and thirsty, cold, naked and consumed with care for the churches he was mistering to. I’m sure he didn’t feel well through some of these circumstances. I also know that when he showed up to the places he was to minister he never said, “I’m here, but I need to take a day or two off to recover from the journey or the latest beating.” He showed up and showed the strength of God to those he was ministering to. He was still successful in his mission regardless of what he had to go through to get there. He wasn’t complaining and making excuses for being a failure, He was boasting in the strength of God to get His work done despite the opposition and discomfort.
As I read this passage over many times, I imagined how I would feel if I had to suffer these setbacks. I thought about the headache that tried to stop me from fulfilling my purpose for the day. Yet, I never thought “Hmm, maybe this isn’t God’s will for me after all?” or “I am not strong enough to do this.” I pushed through and I’m sure I will have to do it again, but my desire to touch lives and get people connected to God is more important to me than the things I will suffer along the way. In the days to come, I will not remember the headache, but I will remember the impact I made in many lives that evening.
Today I want to encourage you to press through. Press through the discomforts and troubles in this world. The way to do it is to first spend time with God and hear the message He is speaking to your heart. Then begin to pray for others. Pray for God to touch their heart and draw them closer to Him. Offer your life to invest into others for His plan and purpose. Grow that plan up in your heart until you know that you are here to impact the world around you. Then be willing to go through the aches, pains and even beatings if necessary, to get God’s love to those who need it.
Today’s scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 11:16-33
16 I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then tolerate me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. 17 In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. 18 Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. 19 You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. 21 To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that! Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, 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, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? 30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows 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. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.