2 Corinthians 11:21-29 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. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 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. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 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, 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. 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. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
There is no doubt about it, Paul suffered some pain; a lot of pain. But looking at Paul’s pain doesn’t reduce my own. I can try to imagine the agony of being whipped, but that doesn’t reduce the pain of losing my dad. I can visualize the ache of being lost as sea, but that doesn’t lessen the impact of missing my children. Pain is an intensely intimate feeling that, while others can empathize with us, they can never feel it the same way as we do, and no one can say that my pain is less than theirs.
When I think of the pain in my life, much of it was caused by the decisions I made, but sometimes I believe God uses pain in order for us to sort things out in our hearts and our lives. He uses pain to help us grow stronger and to remember what things are really worth going through pain for.
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