Read 2 Corinthians 11:21b-33.
Most of what Paul says here as he is placed in the awkward position of defending his credbility and authority in ministry is totally foreign to me. I’ve never been arrested, beaten, flogged, imprisoned, stoned, shipwrecked and never hope to be. Such a listing, though obviously embarrassing in the moment for Paul to have to produce it, humbles me and makes me recall something of what people went through just to get this word from God to me. A horrific price was paid again and again by people who were determined to insure the spread of the good news of Jesus Christ to people who had not heard of him. Without their lifelong sacrifices, I would not know God today. Many are the number, Paul being just one of them, who laid down their lives to make certain I learned of the One who laid down his life for me. Words cannot convey the depth of the debt I owe such people. I can only thank God for them.
But one thing I can relate to somewhat in Paul’s listing: “… I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” (vs.28) And this is enough.
God my Heavenly Father, the more you stretch my heart’s love for you and your people, the more pressure I feel. But this is a blessed stress, a weight I would not trade for all the world! Though I sometimes groan – all too often, no doubt – I praise you and thank you for counting me worthy to be used by you in some way in your mission of love. Never lift this burden from me, I pray, only give me strength to shoulder whatever you would call me to carry. For I pray in the name of him who carried all to the cross for me and who helps me still in the carrying of my own for him, Jesus. Amen.