One sad reality of this life is the fact we will have some pain. I thought that it was possible to live this life without any pain, and the reality is that no matter how you avoid, convince yourself, and control there will be times in your life that you will have pain. Pain in any sense seems to bring out great fear and anxiety in me. Emotional pain, physical pain, mental pain, spiritual pain all make me feel alone. The one thing that has brought me such great comfort is the assurance that all pain is temporary and that pain can also bring about great opportunities and extreme personal growth. Yet, there was a time when I was not so sure and the never-ending cycle of pain left me battered and bruised and crying out to God with anger. Why? What have I done to deserve this? Why are you mad at me? Why wont you give me some relief? My body was in constant pain, my family and doctors didn’t believe me, my friends were tired of hearing about it and my pastor could only tell me there was a reason that would reveal itself in time. Yet, I was still alone and my prayers felt like they never reached past the ceiling. Fast forward to today, with some of the same pain, but a different outlook that I would never have hoped for in a million years. Today I have assurance!
Assurance of what you may ask? Well, let’s take a quick look at what assurance is and grow from there. Assurance defined in Hebrew is truth itself. Truth about life, truth about circumstance, but as I sat at church last night, our guest preacher said something about assurance that I had never heard before. He asked himself what did assurance look like? What kind of scenario in life would give us assurance, would give us truth? This got my wheels spinning and I haven’t been able to get past this. I just knew I had to share this with you. He was talking about Paul and what assurance he had, but not just Paul, but Paul’s followers. What assurance did they have that they were gonna be okay and their pain and suffering would not be the end of them. The answer was Paul’s life! Not just Paul’s life, but the life of anyone that has suffered or lived with pain or trying circumstance for extended periods of time; but Paul in particular kept coming back to mind and it led me to this scripture…
2 Corinthians 11:24-28 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
- whipped 5 times with 40 stripes save one
- beaten 3 times with a rod
- stoned once
- shipwrecked 3 times
- lost at sea
- in constant journey with no safe place to lay his head
- in danger in the water
- in danger from robbers
- in danger from his own neighbors
- in danger from other tribes
- in danger in the city
- in danger in the wilderness
- in danger out at sea
- in danger from those who preach opposite to his teachings
- often depleted of strength and in great pain
- hunger and thirst
- fasting, going without food or drink
- cold and naked
- constant living without comfort and things
- daily trials that arise
- responsibility of the churches
Paul here is giving a tally of what he went through as a disciple of Jesus. Not including his times of arrest and imprisonment and his thorn of the flesh . All while sticking to the course of faith in Christ. If Paul can survive with Gods help, and find glory in his tribulations, then this gives me the truth and assurance that I can also. My pain is not just a heavy yoke of bondage around my neck. My pain is a crown of glory that has the assurance of who’s in charge and who will not let me fall. Time as time again as Paul survived, I also, time and time again have come through many trials. Yet, I have not suffered as much as Paul has and He still kept going. I have the assurance today through Paul’s life and ministry that God will see me through and the truth is that with God all things are possible.
I encourage you to cry out today and ask God for help. Ask him to help you, ask him to carry you, be open for him to show you the truth and assurance that what you’re going through is not in vain. That It has a purpose and a reason. Today I find that purpose and reason and that is sharing my story with you. To let you know that you are not alone and that God has not abandoned me and will not abandon you no matter how dark your circumstances are. Have assurance that as a believer in God you too can come out of your struggles victorious and in full blessed assurance of His love for you!