What Keeps the Apostle Paul Going?

by Steven Chan

2 March 2008

In 2 Cor 11:23-29, the apostle Paul chronicled the many challenges that he had faced in his life and yet he was able to keep going on:-

“..in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness– besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.”

In 2 Cor 12:9-10, the apostle Paul gave us his answer as to why he was able to keep on keeping on in spite of the many challenges in his life:-

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

The apostle Paul’s staying power as a tireless worker in the face of almost incredible amount of challenges was not in his own wisdom or personal will-power or persistence; rather it was because he had learned to rely on God for His sustaining and enabling power when faced with the challenges of this life: “for when I am weak then I am strong!” because God’s power rests upon me. That’s why in writing to the brethren in Ephesus, he urged them in Eph 6:10 to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”

Paul assures us in Heb 2:18 thus: “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” and in Heb 4:16, he said: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

We need to learn to find grace from God to help in time of our need. We should not rely on our own strength. We need to learn to rely on the Lord so that we can say with Paul in Phil 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Are we struggling with some pressing problems in our lives and they seem too big for us to handle? Reach out to Jesus: He’s reaching out to you. God’s promises are sure. His love for us is unwavering and all-conquering: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?…Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Rom 8:31-32, 37)

The apostle also understood what Jesus has accomplished for us all: “who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel’ (2 Tim 1:10). Hence, for this reason he said: “I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”(2 Tim 1:12). We should not lose our focus on Jesus (Heb 12:1-2). Let us look unto Jesus at all times for deliverance. It is time for us to exercise our faith and not walk by sight (2 Cor 5:7).