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.
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 Ps. Bethany Waugh