Ever felt like the odds are stacked against you? Like whatever you try goes bad?
Yeah, well then you’re in pretty good company.
A lot of Christians really believe that following Christ prevents problems, but that’s just not true. Sometimes following Jesus ensures problems.
The Apostle Paul’s ministry was wrought with problems, pain, and personal attacks. Paul was:
- Initially rejected by the Apostles
- Beaten nearly to death on multiple occasions
- Falsely accused and imprisoned
- Shipwrecked and nearly drowned at sea
- Attacked by mobs
- Inflicted with a painful sickness
- Denounced by false apostles (Judaizers)
- Ridiculed by many
- Rejected by leaders
- Just to name a few!
In the fourth chapter of his second letter to the Corinthian church, he outlines his secrets to getting through. (Yes, you need to actually read this passage first!)
HOW TO GET THROUGH WHAT YOU’RE GOING THROUGH
1. Refuse to compromise your integrity.
First, Paul says that he refuses to play by the world’s standards. Often, when we encounter difficulties we are tempted to take an easier pathway that avoids problems if we will just compromise our convictions. It’s hard to stand strong when the world doesn’t play by the same rules.
Integrity is choosing your behavior according to your conscience instead of convenience.
Paul knew that there is an eternal scorekeeper who cares more about how we actually play the game than how many points are on the board.
2. Recognize the tactics of your enemy.
Paul also acknowledged that there is an unseen enemy in the mix.
It is a tremendous mistake to underestimate the element of spiritual warfare when one encounters problems in ministry.
Just as God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, so Satan hates you and has a strategic plan to destroy you (John 10:10)!
Satan works to distract you from God’s purpose, disable you from God’s power, and discourage you in God’s plan.
When problems mount up it’s time to get down on your knees and call for reinforcements.
3. Realize the limitations of your humanity.
Paul said we carry God’s treasure in jars of clay. Paul was not deceived concerning his weaknesses and warts. He was very aware of his faults. In 1 Corinthians 15:9 he stated that he was the least of the apostles. In 1 Timothy 1:15 he claimed that he held the title “Chief of sinners.”
The point here was that Paul was not full of himself. He operated his ministry out of his weaknesses, not his strengths. He humbled himself under the authority of Jerusalem and had a teachable spirit (Barnabas was his mentor).
Sometimes we encounter problems in ministry that are of our own doing.
The wise leader listens carefully to all correction, whether from fans or foes, in order to see what God is saying.
When we grow beyond godly correction, we’ve wandered away from God’s direction.
4. Renew your devotion daily.
Paul said the problems are pounding on us day by day, so we dive deeper into the well of God’s sustaining grace.
The difficult truth is that a loving God allows pain and problems into the life of his dearest children knowing that the result will be worth it. This was true of Jesus when He faced the cross. It will be true of us if we determine to do anything of substance for the kingdom.
How do you get through seasons of seemingly endless pain?
You draw closer to the heart of the Father through brokenness, prayer and His word.
You just may find that there is a sweetness to your sorrow.
5. Remain focused missionally.
Paul ended the chapter with, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.“
What kept Paul going, and keeps me going as well, is the unshakable commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
It’s my getback behind every setback!
When tempted to give in I’m always taken back to the cross. When Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” he wasn’t saying “I’m finished,” he was saying, “IT’S finished! What I was sent here to do I’ve done. I didn’t throw in the towel, I took a towel and washed the feet of my disciples showing them that this is why we’re here – to love God and love others and do it all for an audience of one.”
What would you add?