Today's Devotional Thought
February 17, 2010 by Rachel Piferi
If there was anyone who deserved to be just a little down because of his circumstances, it was Paul. As he says in 2 Corinthians 11,
“I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27I 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. 28Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?”
Paul had a pretty stressful life. He also had a life full of physical torment. In addition to his imprisonments and beatings, he endured a debilitating chronic condition that he describes as a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me (2 Corinthians 12:7). It is unclear what that condition was, but it is clear that he pleaded with God to remove this condition and yet God chose not to remove it and let him suffer with it. So, if anyone had the right to be disgruntled and upset with his life and with his God, then it was Paul.
But, he wasn’t disgruntled or disappointed in God. He was quite the opposite. He was fervent in his preaching of joy and thankfulness and praise to God. As it says in I Thessalonians 5, we are to give thanks in all circumstances. Not just when things are going well or prayers seem to be answered. We need to praise God when things are going poorly and when we just don’t understand why we’re still suffering. God is always worthy of our praise and our joy should be based on our belief in God’s everlasting love and care for us in eternity. Our joy should not be based on our circumstances.
Circumstances change rather quickly. Don’t let your joy or your praise of God change with them. Do as Paul instructs and has modeled for us: be joyful always and give Him praise in all circumstances.