2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
If there was anybody in the New Testament after Jesus who understood persecution, rejection, and abuse- it was Paul the apostle. Read in 2 Corinthians 11:23-30 the many hardships and sufferings Paul endured in his life as a result of simply “fighting the good fight.”
“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 stoned, 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 own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 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) 5x whipped 39x, (5) 3x beaten with rods, (6) stoned, (7) 3x 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 the Jewish people, (13) danger from the 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.
However, despite all his hardships, by faith in God Paul never gave up or quit. 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 that in his times of his greatest weakness, God’s grace was all sufficient and His power was made perfect.
Be encouraged by what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 to finish your race and continue to fight the good of faith, “8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 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.”
Do you have faith to 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 full faith and trust in God during your times of suffering.
- Like Paul, by faith, fight the good fight of faith and finish your race.