Author: Ron Graham
Paul was a man who was dedicated to Jesus Christ, a man of very great faith. He showed this by his perseverance in much suffering. In this lesson we will note the ways in which Paul suffered. That will lead us to look at what ways we might suffer as disciples of Christ.
2Corinthians 11:23 to 12:10
Paul describes his sufferings in a kind of poem (2Corinthians 11:23 to 12:10), to encourage us not to let tribulation destroy our devotion to Christ. It is easy to be discouraged by our natural fear of suffering and our knowledge of our own weaknesses. Paul's example helps us to be strong in theface of tribulations. The following is the list Paul gives of what he endured (2Corinthians 11:23-28).
Later in the reading Paul tells of a "thorn in the flesh" which troubled him much, and how he had come to accept "weaknesses... insults... distresses... persecutions... difficulties... for when I am weak, then I am strong" (2Corinthians 12:7-10).
What sort of tribulations might we experience. The list below is by no means complete, but it shows some of the things which people, Christians included, have suffered in various places. You may well know of actual examples of people suffering things like these...
This is just a taste of the sort of things one might have to endure. We can find many passages of the Bible that describe tribulation. For example Jesus said, "Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. You will hear of wars and rumours of wars. In various places there will be famine and earthquakes" (Matthew 24:7). These things happen all the time, and Christians are not immune to them or other atrocities and disasters.
Paul tells Christians, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man" (1Corinthians 10:13). The Greek word for "temptation" ( pirasmos) is not limited in meaning to temptation to sin through lust (James 1:14), but can also mean a trial that tests one's faith (eg Acts 20:19, 1Peter 1:6). The tribulations to which Christians are vulnerable are the same bad things that happen to others. Our trials are "such as is common to man." (1Corinthians 10:13).
We are promised that if we seek first the kingdom of God then the necessities of life will be added to us. However this promise does not mean our lives will be easy and trouble free, for the promise is made in view of the fact that "each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:33-34). We should expect two things...