Paul's advice to his listeners is intriguing and important because he often tells us what he has endured for the sake of the Gospel, and challenges us to do the same.
“Five times I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked. For a night and a day I was adrift at sea. On frequent journeys, I was in danger from rivers, from bandits, from my own people, from Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the wilderness, in danger at sea, in danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked. And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Cor 11:24-29).A first glance at passages like this can be confusing. Is Paul exalting himself and his sufferings? While we know this is not the case, it is a warning to remember how good God is and how often God has worked in and through us, even when we did not know it was happening.
Very few saints knew the power of their witness as they offered it. The countless women and men who gave their lives for the sake of the Gospel were not freed from the fear of death because they were doing the right thing. Even Jesus asks his Father to take his suffering from him, but then tells God to do what God needs to do for the sake of the world, and God certainly did.
While most of us will not have to suffer like Paul, we all must bear our own burdens and fears, ask God for the strength to pass through them, and when God does in us what God needs for the good of all, we cannot fail to remember with Paul what God "has done through me."
Today, ask God for the strength to enter through the narrow gate.
What experiences have you had that convinced you that all was from God and for God?