Paul was no stranger to suffering. He gave a catalogue [2 Corinthians 11:25] of the afflictions he endured as he preached the Gospel of Christ – a total of 190 lashes laid upon his bareback in five separate scourgings; three times beat with rods; stoned once; shipwrecked three times; imprisoned several times; and in continual peril from many quarters. He speaks of weariness and pain, hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness, yet does not complain. Instead, he calls it, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment” [II Corinthians 4:17].
For the average Christian today, any one of Paul’s troubles would have been a major setback to his faith. He would wonder if God had forgotten him and left him to suffer in his misery. He would wallow in self-pity, grumbling and complaining about how hard life is. But that is not how Paul reacted. He saw a lifetime of hardship and suffering as his “light affliction.”
What made the difference between Paul and Mr. Average Christian? The answer is that Paul had his eyes firmly fixed on eternal realities more than on transient human values. Things seen are temporal, but the unseen is eternal. Like Moses, he chose rather to “suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” [Hebrews11:25]. Moses made his choice because he saw by faith “Him who is invisible.” Paul was motivated by the same vision.
Dear suffering believer, lift up your weary eyes towards heaven. Here on earth, you groan, as does the whole creation, but soon with Christ the pain and the tears will be forever gone. What now seems heavy on earth is light with Christ in view.
“The face of Jesus must be very near our own when the thorns from His crown of suffering are pressing our brow and hurting us.” [Anonymous].