In our 2Corinthians series we are considering Paul’s amazing list of hardships in11:23-27, “...far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.”
Like many of you, I have been humbled by the things Paul suffered. It makes my life look so easy! So, I decided to rewrite Paul’s list according to my own experience, for comparison purposes:
I have been with my wife when she was in labor far more than most other pastors, my father was far more involved in prison ministry than most people’s fathers; I’ve had countless meetings, often near being talked to death. I received from maternity ward nurses nine Lashes – plus two from the adoption agency worker. Three times I was meetin’ with Rods and Lances, but more times with Larrys and Steves. Once I met with someone who was stoned. Three times I got in trip wrecks, waiting night or day on the side of the road in my car. I have been on frequent journeys to the church and to Wegmans. I’ve been in danger from spammers, danger from baby slobbers, danger from my own people (mainly when I tell puns), danger from German Shepherds, danger in the office (e.g. paper cuts), danger in the restaurant (e.g I once flipped an entire meal-sized salad onto my lap), danger at church (e.g. during communion, a ladybug once went into my chalice wine and then into my mouth), danger from spam emails from Nigerian princes. I have had to work hard at times and occasionally even experienced bits of hardship, I’ve been through a few sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst — even having to skip lunch a few times — but more often eating too much food. I have been exposed to cold shoulders, cold looks, and cold stares; sadly, I’ve given some too.