2 Corinthians 11:23-30 New International Version (NIV)
23 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. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 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, 26 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. 27 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. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
Paul spent a considerable period of his life serving Christ, and yet he experienced immense struggles and suffering. We may wonder why God lets one of His most faithful servants go through so much hardships? We normally assume that the Lord should protect His faithful disciples from hardships, but it isn’t usually what God does.
We may think faithful believers don’t deserve to suffer, but from God’s perspective, suffering and hardships produce faithful believers. If our lives were so easy without any pain or suffering, trials or opposition, we would never really know God because we may never seek Him. Our relationship with Him would then be too superficial. In most cases, adversities are the practical classes for what you read and study from God’s Word. What we believe is tested by adversity. How will we ever know that God can be trusted in the midst of difficulties if we have never been challenged by hardships?
The Lord always gives us ample opportunities to apply scriptural truths to the difficulties that we face, and in that process, we find Him faithful and sufficient. How would Paul have known the strength of Christ if he had not been weakened by troubles, persecution, and adversities? Depending on your response, adversities can either be God’s means of strengthening your faith or events to discouragement and self-pity. If you believe what the Bible says and apply its principles to your situations, your trust in God grows, and your faith will be strengthened through the adversities.