Attitude Toward Adversity
When I think about all that Paul endured as a Christian, I am so amazed at the price he paid just to be a follower of Jesus. False teachers in Corinth tried to parade all they had done for the Lord as evidence of the fact they preached the truth. This forced Paul to give an abbreviated summary of how much he had suffered. “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:24-28). Has anyone ever suffered more?
It is even more amazing to see how Paul describes such adversity. He calls it light affliction which is just for a moment, and says it is not worthy to be compared to what awaits us (2 Cor. 4:17; Rom. 8:18). Light afflictions? Wonder how he might look at what we are suffering.
Yet we get depressed when anyone says even one word about the religious convictions we have. We sometimes cower in fear and remain silent when others are advocating and defending sin. When we occasionally have to refuse to go where our friends are going because we know this is not a place where we should be, we feel bad.
Paul says that all who live godly lives in Christ will suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). We may have fewer friends, who think it strange that now that we are Christians we cannot live as we once did (1 Pet. 4:3). We may have family problems simply because Jesus shows that being a Christian causes others to have such disdain for us (Matt. 10:34-35). Early Christians could not buy or sell or get money because they would not worship pagan gods. You may have been bypassed for promotion simply because you would not “go with the flow” of your employer. It may be rare, but I have known Christians who have suffered physical abuse because they followed the Lord.
What do we learn from this? We are going to suffer in some way, but it is nothing to compare with what those early Christians suffered. If they called their torture light affliction, how would they describe the inconveniences in our lives? All that matters is our attitude. They rejoiced that they were worthy to suffer for Him (Acts 5:31). Do you have this joy?