Affliction Diminishes or Enlarges You
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!Philippians 4:4 NIV
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.Philippians 4:11-13 NIV
Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. 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 pelted with stones, 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 fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 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. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?2 Corinthians 11:23-29 NIV
When a child learns to walk, he or she falls several times but gets up again until he or she succeeds. The child does not have a false identity. In contrast, when we grow up and fall, we usually stay on the floor.
The apostle Paul showed a good attitude in the face of adversity. He was in prison, not for committing a crime, but for obeying his divine calling. He wrote a letter to the Philippians where he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!” In the midst of whatever situation you are going through, you can understand that we do not depend on circumstances but on a Spirit that has been given to us. We should be able to say, “In the midst of my condition, I rejoice in the Lord.”
Paul was talking about his experiences in life. His secret is in Philippians 4:11–13. He says that he may be going through a difficult situation or be in abundance, but he remains the same. People often change through the extremes they live in. One extreme is positive, which is living in abundance. The other extreme is when we lack or are in need. However, both extremes reveal who we are through our reactions. Paul says, “In Christ, I remain the same.” Nothing changes us, because we can do everything in Christ who is the reason of our strength.
Paul proves to be a true apostle by demonstrating his resilience through his letters. He never presented his accomplishments, instead presented the facts. Through every hardship he experienced, he remained true to his calling. This is the greatest evidence of someone who possesses the life of the true God: that regardless of adversity, he or she continues to serve Him. Actions speak louder than words.
Paul said that he cared for and burdened for the church. It was the suffering of others that weighed him down, not his own condition. This process in his life not only produced in him knowledge of the God of all comfort but transformed him into an instrument of consolation for others. What he suffered made sense, because now he understood that his suffering and what had happened in his life was God’s preparation to enable him to comfort others.