2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
If there was ever a disciple in the New Testament that understood persecution, rejection and abuse- it was Paul the apostle. Take a moment to read 2 Corinthians 11:23-30 as he described the many hardships and sufferings he endured.
“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.”
Paul listed the following twenty-three hardships he faced in the ministry; (1) Prison time, (2) Flogged severely, (3) Exposed to death, (4) Five times whipped thirty-nine times, (5) Three times beaten with rods, (6) Stoned, (7) Three times shipwrecked, (8) Spent a night in the ocean, (9) Constantly on the move, (10) Danger from rivers in travel, (11) Dangers from bandits, (12) Danger from Jewish people, (13) Danger from Gentiles, (14) Danger in the city, (15) Danger in the country, (16) Danger at sea, (17) Danger from false brothers, (18) Laboring night and day without sleep, (19) Suffering hunger and thirst, (20) Times of being cold and without proper clothing, (21) The pressure of all the churches, (22) Outward physical weakness and (23) Inward spiritual weakness in the form of temptation.
Despite all of Paul’s hardships, he never stopped fighting the good fight of faith.
The Romans eventually beheaded him during the time of Nero’s persecution, but nevertheless, Paul finished his race. What was Paul’s “secret of success” to endure suffering? He had faith in God. Paul believed that God’s grace was more powerful than all his weaknesses and temptations. He wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I pray we will all be empowered by God’s grace, motivated by Paul’s testimony and never stop fighting the good fight of faith!
Do you believe that when you are weak, Christ is strong?
- Repent if you’ve been having “pity patty parties” instead of having faith in God.
- Put your faith in God during times of suffering. Augustine wrote, “God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering.”
- By faith, fight the good fight and finish your race.
One Year Reading Plan
Daniel 6:1-28, 2 Peter 3:1-18, Psalm 119:129-152, & Proverbs 28:21-22. Click here to read online.