Summary: Follow Paul’s example as one who learned how to turn difficulties into catalysts for Godly change
Learning How Paul Made the Most of the Life’s Difficulties
(2 Cor. 6:3-13)
Illustration:John Quincy Adams held more important offices than anyone else in the history of the U.S. He served with distinction as president, senator, congressman, minister to major European powers, and participated in various capacities in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and events leading to the Civil War. Yet, at age 70, with much of that behind him, he wrote, "My whole life has been a succession of disappointments. I can scarcely recollect a single instance of success in anything that I ever undertook."
Charles Sell, Unfinished Business, Multnomah, 1989, p. 233.
Let us learn how to make the most of difficulties instead of always feeling discouraged by our circumstances.
All of the following application principles were practiced by the apostle Paul who knew how to live out what he taught, "unknown, yet well known, dying, yet behold we live, sorrowful, yet always rejoicing, poor yet making many rich, having nothing and yet possessing all things. Always carrying about in our bodies the life of the Lord Jesus."
1. Learn how to commit yourself to God’s purposes in every situation as He has the sovereign power to work all things together for good. (Rom. 8:28,29)
2. Learn how to deal with sorrow yet always be rejoicing in the Lord and in His promises so that you are thankful in all things. (I Thes. 5:16-18)
3. Learn how to be poor yet make many rich since you have the assurance God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19)
4. Learn how to be content with little realizing that you are possessing all good things through Christ Jesus. (2 Cor. 5:19,20)
5. Learn how to be beaten down yet still remain a conqueror through Him who loves you. (Rom. 8:37)
6. Learn how to remember that while others may not affirm you, the Holy Spirit lives to make intercession for you with groaning and travailing too deep for words. (Rom. 8:26,27)
7. Learn how to be despised and rejected by men so you can identify closer with Jesus who was a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief and like one who men hid their heads. (Isa 53:1-9)
8. Learn how to deal with discouraged while remaining encouraged in Christ as Paul promised in Philippians 2:1,2.
9. Learn how to feel loneliness while remembering that you have a friend in Jesus. “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:13)
10. Learn how to deal with betrayal while recalling that He will never leave us or forsake us so that we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, from whom then shall I be afraid.”
11. Learn how to carry your cross while knowing that He will bear our every burden while allowing us to do everything God asks us to do with the help of Christ who gives us the strength and power. (Phil. 4:13)
12. Learn how to feel angry, resentful, jealous or envious without sinning. Remember that we can put aside these emotions and replace them with a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another, forgiving one another just as God in Christ has forgiven us. (Eph. 4:28-32)
13. Learn how to lack amenities, services and provisions without growing resentful, bitter or self-pitying. Trust the Lord to help you find replacement means of getting your needs met as you claim the promise, “The Lord is my shepherd, I will not be in need of any good thing.” (Psa. 23:1)
14. Learn how to profit from every hardship so you can say, He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” (Psa 23:2,3)
15. Learn how to be criticized without feeling like you have to retaliate or taking it personally. Take up the full armor of God while being strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. (Eph. 6:10-18)
16. Learn how to be persecuted while learning how this will help you grow in all aspects into Christ as you continue to speak the truth in love. (Eph. 4:15)
17. Learn how to deal with loveless situations and people while asking the Lord to teach you more about all the dimensions of the breadth, length, height and depth of His great love. (Eph. 3:14-19)
18. Learn how to be troubled without giving into discouragement, despondency, or depression. Trust the Lord to lift your spirits as David wrote, “The glory and the lifter of my head. For Thou Oh Lord art a shield for me.”
19. Learn how to be oppressed by authorities without giving into the feeling that you are victim or that you are helpless. “Trust the Lord to fight your battles for you.”