If I truly believe in heaven, a place where I will live for all eternity, a place where there is a peace and a joy beyond my limited human capacity to comprehend, what wouldn't I do to get there? One way to get to heaven is to surrender our own will and to live in the will of God; to live per God's calling and guidance. If I am living in accordance with God's calling for me, is there a trial or suffering that is too great for me to bear in this life?
When I read this section of this letter to the Corinthians, it is amazing to me to reflect on Paul's account of the dangers, hardships, and sufferings he endured and at the same time to see his patience, perseverance, diligence, and cheerfulness in the midst of these trials. Paul says he has been imprisoned, received 39 lashes five different times, been beaten with rods three different times, been stoned, been shipwrecked three times, often gone without sleep, known hunger and thirst, and been cold and naked. When I compare my trials and sufferings in my service for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they seem unworthy of notice when compared to his. Sometimes the comparative puny trials I am called to face can almost break my spirit to continue. It is extremely humbling to realize what Paul suffered in his walk with God. When I feel like giving up the things I hear God calling me to do, I like to reread this passage. It puts it all back in perspective for me.
Dear friends, please remember that our faith grows, is strengthened, in times of trials and suffering. It is easy to praise God when things are going well. Our faith will grow when we praise God during a time of suffering. The trials we experience for Christ's sake build our character, demonstrate our faith, and prepare us for further service to the Lord.
May God bless you,