Hidden Nuggets Series #34 – “To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our hands…” I Corinthians 4:11-12
If you are a regular reader of the Bible, then you know sometimes verses or passages speak a message to you at just the right time. It’s as though the words literally jump off the page into your life. It’s truly interesting how often that happens, almost like God planned it that way.
The more I read about the Apostle Paul, the faster he is becoming my hero. Here we have a man who persecuted the early church, who turns believer in Jesus, and then goes on to travel the known world as an evangelist. Along the way, he starts churches and converts thousands to Christianity. All the while though, he faces tremendous opposition from the religious traditionalists and from local authorities who didn’t appreciate how his preaching was touching the hearts of the people.
On multiple occasions he was beaten and thrown in prison. One time he was stoned and left for dead, an incident that many think caused him to suffer partial blindness the rest of his life. In the verses I listed above from I Corinthians, we learn he was often hungry and thirsty, poorly clothed and homeless.
This doesn’t sound like a picture perfect life. Yet, despite the pain and suffering his life and ministry dealt out, what do we see him doing?
Continuing to work, laboring with his hands.
Paul Kept Moving Forward
That may seem confusing considering Paul was a missionary, a professional speaker. So where’s this “laboring with your hands” coming from? Wouldn’t he just be talking all day?
Turns out Paul had a little side hustle going on – he was a tentmaker. So in addition to the support he received on occasion from churches, he earned a living for himself by producing and selling tents at the various cities during his travels. No amount of pain and suffering was going to stop him from working. His ministry had to keep moving forward.
So does your life need to keep moving forward, no matter what state you are currently in.
Do rough times often come? Sure. The pressures of life can really beat us down. Pain and suffering knock at our door and we feel helpless to quench them. All our efforts leave us emotionally hungry, vulnerable and helpless.
Realize though, even if it seems so, we are never completely helpless. No offense, but Paul faced worse than you or I, and he kept pressing on. He didn’t give in. He supported himself when no one else would and continued the ministry God had called him to. That should serve as a great example and encouragement to us.
What insurmountable mountain are you facing today? Does the pain and suffering have you locked up ready to call it quits? If so, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate the circumstance.
What can you do to improve it? Are there truly obstacles in your path or simply excuses? What can you do to keep moving forward each day, even if just a little bit? Is there anyone who can help you face these giants of life?
I know one person who is available. He’s the same God who called Paul to preach and spread the news of Jesus to the world. He will always be with you through the pain and suffering, even when all others desert you. If your ready, he offers you a gift today that will revolutionize your world.
Questions: How have you made it through the difficult times? What do you do to keep moving forward? What steps do you take to evaluate why things seem to be going so bad? What one thing always seems to beat you down or put the pressure on?
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