3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:3-5
Saul was on a personal mission to kill all Christians until God confronted him and blinded him. He became helpless and had to rely on others. His encounter with God changed his life forever. At first, other Christians were afraid to be around him because they weren't sure a man could change so drastically.
Saul's name was changed to Paul. Everywhere he went, he spoke and wrote. He saw people hurting and he addressed it. It seems odd that a person would boast of his afflictions, however, Paul pointed out that suffering is part of the process that gets us closer to God.
How often do we communicate with God when everything is going well in our lives? What about the times when we see people around us struggling? Do we reach out or do we pretend not to notice?
I recall my father's final days on earth. The pain was so intense that the doctor prescribed morphine. After refusing this drug, my brother crossed out the label and offered it as an analgesic- this little trick worked. I will never forget my father's words, "what else do I have to give to God if I do not have my pain?" The morphine was probably more for our benefit because we could not bear to see him suffering.
Jesus suffered greatly in His final hours. He gave His life for us. He had to suffer so that we could live forever. There will be times on our journey when we will face afflictions. Let's remember that these afflictions will produce perseverance which brings character...character turns to hope and hope leads us to the Creator. If we understand how our afflictions can draw us closer to Jesus, maybe we can imitate Paul and boast of them. When our journey is complete, all of our afflictions will disappear and we will spend eternity with God, that is the greatest hope of all.