We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV)
In reading Second Corinthians, it is difficult to restrain a feeling of real pity for the noble old man as he sweats under the bitter lashings of the enemy. But such pity is wasted now. He has long been where the wicked cease from troubling and the toilworn are at rest. For many long years, his eyes have gazed upon the vision beatific in the land where The red rose of Sharon Distills its heartsome bloom And fills the air of heaven With ravishing perfume.
He walks now with the noble army of martyrs and shares the goodly fellowship of the prophets and the glorious company of the apostles. He does not need our pity.
But from Paul and his afflictions we may learn much truth, some of it depressing and some altogether elevating and wonderful. We may learn, for instance, that malice needs nothing to live on; it can feed on itself. A contentious spirit will find something to quarrel about. A faultfinder will find occasion to accuse a Christian even if his life is as chaste as an icicle and pure as snow. A man of ill will does not hesitate to attack, even if the object of his hatred be a prophet or the very Son of God Himself. If John comes fasting, he says he has a devil; if Christ comes eating and drinking, he says He is a winebibber and a glutton. Good men are made to appear evil by the simple trick of dredging up from his own heart the evil that is there and attributing it to them.
O Lord, may I recognize Your presence and power in trials because through them You are changing me. Thank You!
Paul had the wisdom to recognize that God's power can be experienced in trial. Not that He always delivers us from trials but that He brings us through trials more like Christ and closer to Him.