Paul certainly endured a lot. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-29, he lists the many things (physically and mentally painful things) he went through–and survived. But it’s the portion before this that prepares me: And I will keep on …
12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.2 Corinthians 11:12-15, NIV
Paul endured so many things, but it is in these verses that I see purpose. He knows there’s a spiritual battle at hand. A quest for hearts, minds, souls.
His examples straddle two realms. When he speaks of generosity, the fruit is enjoyed in a physical realm, the seed provided by a spiritual one.
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!2 Corinthians 9:10-15, NIV
I notice it here too–the world and the divine:
I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. 3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.2 Corinthians 10:2-5, NIV
Because he has such a deep understanding, he has learned to welcome endurance.
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.2 Corinthians 12:7b-10, NIV, emphasis mine
Lord, help me to remember the words “And I will keep on” in the face of adversity. I am thankful for your provision and your power. I am grateful for your Word as truth, for weapons that have divine power.