READING: Ecclesiastes 1-3, 2 Corinthians 11:16-33
“There is the daily pressure on me.”
2 Corinthians 11:28
I have no idea what it costs some people to follow Jesus. I simply don’t, and I would be foolish to pretend that I do. I realized that truth again today as I read Paul’s description of many of the struggles he faced as he served God:
Five times I received the forty lashes minus one from the Jews. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea. On frequent journeys, I faced dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, and dangers among false brothers; toil and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and without clothing. Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my concern for all the churches. (2 Cor. 11:25-28)
Lashed 39 times. Beaten. Stoned. I don’t know any of that. At all. Yet, some believers around the world today do.
Shipwrecked. I’ve never faced that. Or, in my world, I’ve never faced transportation difficulties in doing the Lord’s work. Some do, though.
Dangers along the way. Not really. I might have been frightened in some settings, but I suspect my fear outpaced reality. For other brothers and sisters today, the dangers are very real.
Hardship. Sleepless nights. Famine. Nakedness. I’ve not experienced these things, either. I’ve had sleepless nights, but they usually happen because of unnecessary worry. Some believers, though, face all of these issues.
Daily burden for the church. I suppose I’ve come closest to sharing this experience, but I doubt my burden compares to the depth of Paul’s burden. I’ve not led believers who could well die for their faith. Some church leaders are doing that even as I write this devotion.
No, I don’t understand what other believers face. I can read their stories, but I’ve not walked in their shoes.
What I do understand, though, is that my acceptance of God’s blessing and care is embarrassingly casual. I do know that I get frustrated too quickly and complain too easily about the work to which God has called me.
May God forgive me.
- Meditate on God’s simple blessing on you today.
- Pray for God to grant you faith that would remain faithful under trouble and persecution.
PRAYER: “Father, I take Your care for granted far too much. Please forgive me for my arrogance.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Ecclesiastes 4-6, 2 Corinthians 12