NO PAIN NO GAIN
I was listening to a podcast last night and was hearing about a life of a navy seal who had to go through every possible obstacle in life to get to the point where he was at today. His name is David Goggins and he has broken the world record in pull ups and has went through one of the most amazing transformations in history through a strong mindset and hard nose grit. He was a man that was over two hundred pounds and being an exterminator to a man that became part of the world’s most elite special forces in the military. He had a terrible childhood where he worked more than going to school but despite all this he became successful. How? There are many factors but one thing that he said that I have been noticing is a trend through all those who are great in human history is that he embraced suffering. It was a simple line but a powerful one when he said that, “in life you gotta suffer.”
Suffering is a funny thing in that we don’t want to suffer but we are naturally drawn to it. We don’t want to suffer but we get inspired by others who have suffered but overcame! Think about every movie we see, we see the main character suffering through out as we are on the edge of our seats wishing that he or she will overcome. We are drawn to movies that have amazing characters going through extraordinary situations that involve a lot of suffering. Can you imagine a movie where the main character didn’t suffer at all but everything just worked out? NEVER! Why because deep down in our hearts we know that suffering is part of life and if we try avoid it, we stop our growth while stopping the glorious story that we can potentially be in.
Paul suffered and it was known. Paul knew that suffering was part of the process but embraced it as we are still learning about his life thousands of years later. Today as we know we are going to suffer, let us put some eternal purpose behind it by suffering for the Kingdom and suffering ultimately for God who will one day show us in glory that it was all worth it in the end.
NOTES ON THE TEXT
And when they came to him, he said to them:
“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.[a]
Paul is speaking to the Ephesian elders and Paul didn’t simply talk about Christ and following him but displayed it visibly through his life. Paul didn’t simply talk the talk but walked the walk. Paul didn’t do this for his glory but for the glory of God and for the benefit of His people and here are some highlights of his lifestyle
Served the Lord with humility
With trials from the Jews
Did not shrink from declaring to the Ephesians anything that was profitable or to their benefit
Taught them in the public and in the homes
Testified to them the Gospel
In all these things the summary of Paul’s lifestyle is that he proclaimed the Gospel that benefits all mankind for all eternity and that he was so compelled by love that he was willing to in humility embrace suffering for it. This in other words was the purpose of the suffering and therefore because suffering had a purpose it was able to be endured! Brothers and sisters, are we so compelled by the love of God that we are willing to suffer for the people around us by living out and proclaiming the Gospel? Did you know that the biggest blessing you can ever give someone is your presence and not just your presence but the presence of God that you host inside of you through your lifestyle? The biggest gift that anyone can give another person is themselves but a greater gift even than that is their presence as a bridge to THE PRESENCE.
22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by[b] the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there,23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again.
Paul is bound to the Holy Spirit and is heading to Jerusalem but does not know what will happen to him. But what he does know is that imprisonment and pain are coming. The reason that Paul is able to go into pain and suffering is because he does not count his life of any value unless he fulfills the purpose that God has given him. For Paul, the value of his life is not tied to self-preservation but to doing the will of the Lord and being with Him. For Paul, to live is to live for Christ and to die to the things of the world is His gain. Paul is committed to Christ and there is no compromise!
Whether you believe it or not, we all tie our self-worth to things and a lot of times we tie it to accomplishments or the opinions of others. Some people tie their self-worth to their work, some to their grades, and others to people in this life but what is common to all those things is that they ALL can be taken away! When we tie our self-worth to things that are not eternal than we are setting ourselves up to stand on shaky ground but when we tie to God it is on solid ground. Why? Because the word of God and His presence is eternal and can never be taken back! Unlike a human being, when God says he loves you, its forever stamped into eternity and when He says that you are His child through Christ forever, it is legit forever. People go back on their words and things will fail but God is neither of these things. The only time we feel that God does fail or not keep His promises is when we don’t get what we want in our way rather than leaning on what He says and does.
To suffer is part of the process. But to suffer for Christ and also experience the glory that comes with it is something that very few people will ever experience. May you walk the narrow road like our Lord and experience His goodness today.