I think we could all agree that Paul was the greatest preacher who ever lived (besides Jesus, of course). Not only did he preach with his lips, but he also preached with his life. In other words, he was not a hypocrite. He practiced what he preached. And probably one of the best lessons we can learn from Paul is how to be happy and content in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Paul was certainly no stranger to hard times. He was imprisoned countless times, stoned, shipwrecked, beaten, rejected, and ridiculed. Yes, if anyone knew about difficult times, it was Paul. However, take a look at some of his writings:
It’s not that I’m talking about need: because I’ve learned, in whatever state I’m in, to be content with it. – Philippians 4:11
Then Agrippa said to Paul: You are allowed to speak for yourself. Then Paul stretched out his hand and answered by himself: I consider myself happy, King Agrippa, because I will answer for myself today before you about all the things of which I am accused by the Jews: – Acts 26: 1-2
And the multitude rose up against them; and the magistrates tore their clothes and ordered them to be beaten. And after they had been beaten many stripes, they threw them into jail, and ordered the jailer to keep them safe; who, having received such an order, put them in the inner prison and secured their feet in the stocks. And at midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing praises to God, and the prisoners heard them. – Acts 16: 22-25
And let us not tire of doing good; because in due time we will reap, if we do not lose heart. – Galatians 6: 9
And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for you; because my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will rather boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. Therefore, I take pleasure in illnesses, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in anguish for the sake of Christ; Because when I am weak, then I am strong. – II Corinthians 12: 9-10
Happy. Happy. Singing. This is not the response we expect from a man who has been through so much. We expect bitterness and complaints, not thanksgiving and praise. But still, I think he tops it all in the next verse.
Because our slight tribulation, which is momentary, produces in us an ever more excellent and eternal weight of glory. – II Corinthians 4:17
Slight affliction? I do not consider shipwrecks or beatings to be minor afflictions. What did Paul know that would allow him to stay so positive despite the constant problems that surrounded him? In reality, it was not so much about what he knew but what he believed and what he was concentrating on. He not only knew that God would work all things according to His plan; Paul believed it and acted on that belief. Many times we hear Paul talk about moving toward a goal or striving for a goal. That was the secret of Paul’s success. He did not focus on the here and now. He looked into the future.
While we do not look at the things that are seen, but those that are not seen; because the things that are seen are temporary; but the things that are not seen are eternal. – II Corinthians 4:18
Paul had the attitude of “Who cares what happens to me on this earth? This body is temporary. What matters is that I do my best to make an eternal difference in as many lives as I can. There is a higher purpose than that. my comfort and convenience. ” And that, my friend, is the attitude we must take if we want to be truly happy and content in this life. We need to stop focusing on what we think would be best for us and allow God to have his way in our lives. We should not worry about fame or riches, but about reaching a lost and dying world and sharing the news that Jesus saves.
Brethren, I do not consider myself to have understood; But what I do, forgetting what is left behind and reaching out to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to obtain the prize of the high calling of God in Christ. Jesus. – Philippians 3: 13-14