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 stoned, 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 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. 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. (2 Co 11:23–27, NIV 1984).
Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16–18, NIV 1984).
I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6–8, NIV 1984).
My Musings – Light (of little importance, trivial) and momentary (continuing for only a moment, fleeting). One might think that Paul did not know what he was talking about, until they read all the things he had to endure. Few of us have endured greater hardships, although some might. And yet, in the face of all that, he “kept the faith,” continued to fight “the good fight,” until he had “finished the race.” For him, the end of the race was prison and beheading.
We can learn from Paul. How was he able to persevere under tremendous hardship and the continual threat of death? By not fixing his eyes on what is seen (or what is happening now), but on the unseen (the blessed hope that is coming). “For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” And in between:
Keep the Faith – Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1, NIV 1984).
Fight the Good Fight – For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10:3–4, NIV 1984).
Finish the Race – Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6, NIV 1984).
My Advice – It’s hard to dish out advice when others are going through difficult times. But know this, we will not go through it alone, because we are not orphans. “The Father…will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans.” (John 14:16–18, NIV 1984).