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Posts Tagged ‘St. Paul’

I am more. I have . . . been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25Three 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, 26I 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. 27I 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. 28Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?  (2 Corinthians 11:23-29)

I am less—much less. Yes, once our car was hit by a bus in Germany, but I only had a sore neck from it. I’m pretty sure I was followed by a KGB-type guy in Russia once—at least he showed up in three different places when I was in one of the former “hidden” cities of Russia. I got food poisoning once at a nice restaurant in China, which led to my first and only experience with acupuncture at a local doctor’s office. I have slept on many couches that were too small, in Japan we even slept on floor palettes—but, of course, almost everyone does there—oh, and there was a small earthquake—but no damage.

I have flown on some pretty scary planes, one with instructions for emergency landings which said, “Throw rope out of window and climb out carefully!” We once rode a Romanian train that was so dark and the windows were so dirty that we actually arrived in Sibiu about 2am and none of us knew that we were there. When we did get off the train, it was so dark that we could not tell which direction to walk on the platform to exit the train station.

Well, enough of this silliness! I’m always moved by Paul’s suffering as a missionary for Christ. But as we were reading this in our LST staff devotional on Friday, the thought that struck me as even more amazing than the physical sufferings he endured was in the sentence: “Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches (v. 28).

Paul is saying, “Sure, I face the possibility of death—violent death—almost every day, but what really bothers me is the stress I have, the stress I feel over the spiritual survival of the churches I have served and the people whom I have taught.”

I do know the sadness of watching a church I have helped to plant struggle and die. I do know the pain of sitting with your children in the faith and listen to them justify their immorality by altering their view of God. But I hear in Paul’s final words in this list of sufferings an intensity of daily concern that far surpasses his fear of floggings, shipwrecks, and bandits.

Paul has the heart of a real parent who would rather die themselves than see their children lost. Paul has the heart of Christ who weeps over Jerusalem.

Who am I weeping over? Daily?

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