I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful (2 Timothy 4:7, NLT).
It’s easy to idolize saints and consider that they didn’t have problems.
Someone once said to me, “If I had the blinding light of Jesus appear to me causing my conversion like the Apostle Paul, I wouldn’t have these doubts.”
Yes, Paul did have the blinding light, he spent time with Jesus in the desert learning his theology, and he was even taken into the third heaven.
And he still had issues.
When we read his autobiography of…
Put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea (2 Corinthians 11:23-25)…
We understand that with great grace comes great difficulties.
All the above were momentary, but Paul had three life issues or weaknesses that he dealt with his entire life of following Jesus.
He was sick.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul writes about his thorn in the flesh! Asking God three times for healing, he was given an abundance of grace to endure instead.
Paul remained faithful; he accomplished his mission – despite traveling throughout the Roman empire while sick.
He dealt with fear.
In Ephesians 6:19, Paul asks the Ephesians church for boldness to preach the gospel. When he wrote Ephesians, Paul was in prison. If Paul asked for boldness, it means that he experienced the temptation to just shut up to get out of jail.
Paul finished the race, despite experiencing the temptation to quit mid-way through the course.
He had financial worries.
In Philippians 4:12, Paul says that he has learned the secret of living with nothing or having lots of resources. Again, if Paul says that he “learned” something, it was something with which he struggled.
In one of Paul’s last books, he warns, “For money is the root of all kinds of evil.” Paul learned this through his upbringing in a wealthy family and then voluntary poverty as a disciple of Jesus.
Only by faith in God’s provision did Paul win the good fight, overcoming financial pressures, while still taking the steps of faith.
Illness, anxiety, and money concerns.
This sounds like my life. How about you?
Paul learned to live in the peace, power, and prosperity of faith found only in Jesus. He says this in his last written statement…
May the Lord be with your spirit. And may His grace be with you all (2 Timothy 4:22).