Good morning! Many of us are not strangers to hardship. We live our lives the best way we know how to, but yet hardships still come. We often hear, Jesus didn’t say following him would be easy, but we know “it’s better than the alternative” or “it will be worth it”. Join me today as we read some of the hardships that Paul endured while serving God.
“3 We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. 4 In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. 5 We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. 6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us,[c] and by our sincere love. 7 We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. 8 We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. 9 We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.” – 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 NLT
There are numerous things listed in these verses, but let me recap just a few that stood out in terms of how Paul gained strength through his trails/hardship:
- No one will stumble because of us. – Remained faithful to God’s truth and the call on his life.
- In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. Anything that Paul did represented God well.
- Patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. Paul remained focus on the big picture.
- God’s power is working in us. Paul knew God’s strength was greater than his own.
- We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. Paul was no fool, he used the right weapons when war was waged against him.
- We serve God whether people honor us or despise us. Other people’s opinions were of no concern or deterrent from the plans that God set before him.
Sisters and brothers, even in our hardships we are called to stand firm on God’s promises and faithfulness. For every awful experience that Paul listed in verses 9-10, he countered with a but God response:
- We live close to death, but we are still alive. – but praise God we are still alive.
- We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. – but praise God death will not get the victory.
- Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. – but praise God, joy comes in the morning.
- We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. – but praise God, we are struck down but not abandoned or destroyed.
- We own nothing, and yet we have everything. – but praise God, greater is He who is in me. And what do we benefit if we gain the whole world but lose our own soul?[l] Is anything worth more than our soul?
What is your “but God”? _____________
Father God, thank you for your grace and mercy. Father, thank you for never leaving us or forsaking us. Father, thank you for holding us up during the battles and for keeping us planted on your sure foundation. Father, we know that you are greater than anything we will ever face or encounter. Father, we know that no weapon formed against us will prosper. Yet, Father, in the midst of our trials and tribulations we ask that you remind us of your greatness and your track record of never failing. Lord, keep our attention, don’t let our eyes stray from you. Lord, make us bold and brave. Equip us with your Word and teach us to use our testimonies to bring hope to others while bringing glory to your name. Lord, help us to share with others how you ensured we overcame the attacks and the lies of the enemy. Lord, let us never lose sight of you, or what you have done and what you continue to do in our lives. Lord, strengthen us with your mighty power and give us courage to trust you in all circumstances. In Jesus name, amen.
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