Getting the Most out of Hardship – 7

Yet another benefit of hardship, suffering and trials is that they offer us the opportunity, like nothing else, to demonstrate the all-sufficiency of Christ in our lives. The apostle Paul was uniquely chosen by God to represent to others the all-sufficiency of Christ in the midst of suffering. In fact, when Paul came to know Jesus, the Lord said of him, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:16)

After many years of serving Christ and taking the Gospel to those who had not yet heard the good news of Christ, Paul recounts some of his sufferings, persecutions and trials in 2 Corinthians 11. He had been flogged, beaten and imprisoned numerous times. He had been ship-wrecked three times and once had spent a day-and-a-half in the open sea. He’d been in danger from bandits, from his own countrymen and from the Gentiles. He had often worked hard to support himself and others, often gone without sleep, food, shelter and even clothes. Besides all this he often felt overwhelmed by his concern for the welfare of the churches he and his co-workers had established. (2 Corinthians 11:23-28)

Paul goes on to explain that all these sufferings had a dual effect in his life: first, they revealed his own weakness. But in realizing his weaknesses, the second effect came to light: namely, that Christ is all-sufficient in his life. He heard this word from the Lord, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Later, writing from prison, Paul explains his attitude toward his sufferings to the Philippian Christians, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:20)

Anyone can become overwhelmed and mired down in self-pity over their trials and suffering. To respond so is human. But when, in our suffering, we revel in and demonstrate the all-sufficiency of Christ, He is glorified and suddenly our suffering has a greater purpose and meaning.

Paul explained, “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 things through him who gives me strength.” Let Christ be glorified in you and through your suffering. Trust in His all-sufficiency!

©2011 Rob Fischer