We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 2 Corinthians 4:8-11
From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 2 Corinthians 11:24-28
For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! 1 Corinthians 9:16
For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:5-6
The Apostle Paul, as he went about the work of proclaiming Christ, certainly had a tough time of it physically. Bearing persecution, physical pain and almost constant danger, continuing his mission and ministry until at the end he was preaching and teaching from a hole in the ground in a Roman prison awaiting execution. And why? He had met the risen Christ on the Damascus Road and felt compelled out of love and obedience for His Lord and Savior to preach Christ, and Him crucified, no matter the cost to himself.
I would not expect many, if any of us who preach and teach the Bible, who proclaim the Gospel, who sound the call of Biblical prophecy through our teaching, to face and endure the physical hardships Paul did. But any of us could be faced with similar circumstances at any time. And I do hope many, if not all of us sense the importance of, and live out our ministry with a similar indestructible compulsion of faith that Paul exhibited.
A hard world needs hardened men and women to bring the Word of God, the mind of Christ and the power of the Spirit to it. People in ministry, hardened in the crucible of their faith, unshakable in their belief, resolute in their want to serve the Lord through the preaching and teaching abilities which with they have been gifted. Hardened men and women, hardened to face the rigors of the world, but not hardened of heart as the world is.
It is not always easy to hold to a Christian faith and worldview in the face of the rising defiance to the Word of God and His Sovereignty which we see the world engaging in, and which we see the world growing more bold and vocal about daily. As we see a supposed god of peace bathe the world with his satanic and demoniacal brand of sinful madness many call religion. Yet in us is One greater than he who is in the world. We are hardened for battle with the indestructible faith in a Lord who cannot be bested, even in the worst of times.
I do not expect any of us to have the impact, that lasting impact, which Paul has had. But I do not expect us to have experienced a dramatic Damascus Road type experience with the risen Lord either. Paul in many respects was a unique individual for a unique time and season. The physical pain he bodily endured for the spiritual privilege he was granted, experiencing an extraordinarily intimate relationship with Christ, created an uncommon balance in his life.
To whom much is given much is expected. But we are not called to be a Paul, nor a Peter, John nor James. Nor are we called to meet a certain quota or produce a level of results. We are called to be faithful to His command to “go”. The Spirit will take it from there, using us as the divine will of God would have us be used, just as He did with the apostles.
So, let’s go forward with the compulsion of Paul, let’s go forward with the love of Christ. For even those of us who fall doing battle, even if today, are victors eternally in Christ.
Jesus is coming soon!