I’m sure you’ve encountered them. They always have something to say. They make sure their mountains are just a little harder to scale; a little more difficult to climb. The apostle Paul encountered more than his fair share of beleaguered boasters; so much so that he satirically lays out an entire laundry list of things he could ‘boast’ about. A Hebrew of Hebrew’s. An ideal Israelite. An offspring of Abraham. A servant of the Savior. Numerous imprisonments, countless beatings, near death experiences, stoned, shipwrecked, beaten with rods, adrift at sea, robbed, accused of wrongdoing, hungry, thirsty, often without food, un-relinquishing exposure to the elements...
Paul could have easily threw in the towel and said, “You know what? I’ve had it! I’m tired of dealing with all the naysayers, all the whiners, and all the bellyachers. I need a break!” Interestingly enough, God reminds Paul, “I gave you your break the day I saved you.” To take it a step further, Paul says, “To keep me from becoming CONCEITED [about all the difficulties plaguing me] God went so far as to allow Satan to inflict me with a thorn in the flesh to HARASS me which kept me from becoming too conceited.” (2 Cor. 12: 7f).
Wouldn’t you think God would take it easy on poor, ole’ Paul for all he had been through for the advancement of the gospel? After all, how much hardship can someone endure anyway? Listen to how Paul concludes his thoughts in verse 10 of that 12th chapter: “FOR THE SAKE OF CHRIST, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I AM WEAK, THEN I AM STRONG.” Paul learned something each of us need to learn: We need to be far more dependent on God’s strength than He needs to be on ours!
Have a blessed day and remember the One who gave it to you! Kevin
Kevin Lough is the minister at the Whitehall Church of Christ in Fairmont WV.