“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)
Not only are hardships, persecutions and calamities hard to bear, they also tend to hinder the spread of the Gospel and our service for the Lord. When authorities don’t grant missionaries the visa they need, when a pandemic forces churches to cancel evangelistic events or when sickness limits one’s possibilities to serve in God’s Kingdom, we can easily get frustrated. We are so weak and we can do so little… Why doesn’t God allow us to be strong and efficient and fruitful?
Paul and Silas were on a missionary journey when the Spirit forbade them to speak God’s Word in Asia and did not allow them to go into Bithynia. Instead of getting frustrated, they followed God’s lead to a different region, called Macedonia. After preaching the Gospel there, they ended up in prison. This was totally unfair. Everything went wrong! But even after being beaten, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns. And in the end, the jailor and his entire household came to faith.
This missionary journey did not go according to plan at all. But God used the hardships to bring people to faith. Paul learned that especially when he was weak, he was strong in God. The Lord can work in unexpected ways.
Are there weaknesses and hardships in your life?