2 Corinthians 11:16-33
16 I will say it again. Don’t let anyone think I’m a fool. But if you do, put up with me just as you would put up with a fool. Then I can do a little bragging. 17 When I brag about myself like this, I’m not talking the way the Lord would. I’m talking like a fool. 18 Many are bragging the way the people of the world do. So I will brag like that too. 19 You are so wise! You gladly put up with fools! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who makes you a slave or uses you. You put up with those who take advantage of you. You put up with those who claim to be better than you. You put up with those who slap you in the face. 21 I’m ashamed to have to say that I was too weak for that! Whatever anyone else dares to brag about, I also dare to brag about. I’m speaking like a fool! 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Do they belong to the people of Israel? So do I. Are they Abraham’s children? So am I. 23 Are they serving Christ? I am serving him even more. I’m out of my mind to talk like this! I have worked much harder. I have been in prison more often. I have suffered terrible beatings. Again and again I almost died. 24 Five times the Jews gave me 39 strokes with a whip. 25 Three times I was beaten with sticks. Once they tried to kill me by throwing stones at me. Three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea. 26 I have had to keep on the move. I have been in danger from rivers. I have been in danger from robbers. I have been in danger from my fellow Jews and in danger from Gentiles. I have been in danger in the city, in the country, and at sea. I have been in danger from people who pretended they were believers. 27 I have worked very hard. Often I have gone without sleep. I have been hungry and thirsty. Often I have gone without food. I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, every day I am concerned about all the churches. It is a very heavy load. 29 If anyone is weak, I feel weak. If anyone is led into sin, I burn on the inside. 30 If I have to brag, I will brag about the things that show how weak I am. 31 I am not lying. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus knows this. May God be praised forever. 32 In Damascus the governor who served under King Aretas had their city guarded. He wanted to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall. So I escaped from the governor.
What a list of sufferings! Paul was repeatedly treated as a vicious criminal: his crime, following and preaching Jesus Christ. How could he endure such suffering and the injustice of being persecuted for telling the truth?!
In vs 31 Paul indicates how he can persist amidst the hardships, ‘The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is praised forever, knows I am not lying.’ He knew the God whom he served was Lord and sovereign over all. He knew the Lord Jesus and His grace and mercy. Paul knew God is ‘forever’ and so he was living in light of eternity. He knew that God saw his life, knew the truth… and that was enough.
Is God’s sovereignty, grace, eternal nature, promise of eternal life, and clear view into my life enough for me to endure hardships? Do I have Paul’s perspective and acknowledge God is still in control, or am I focused on MY suffering?
God, please help me to rest in the knowledge that you know what I’m going through and you are still sovereign. Help me to be patient in the midst of discomfort. Amen.
Written by Bethany Waugh