2Co 11:25-28 “Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.”
It is truly amazing to stop and consider all that Paul endured so he could go and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was beaten with rods on three separate occasions. Based on historical context, this was a Roman punishment administered in public. Not only was it physically painful but also publicly shameful.
On one occasion, Paul was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19). This was in the city of Lystra. The day after being left for dead, Paul left with Barnabas and traveled to Derbe. When they had preached the gospel and taught many in Derbe, Paul turned around and went back to Lystra to encourage the saints there.
Some would say that Paul never learned. He was shipwrecked, not once but three times, and even spent a day and night in the sea. He was in constant danger from the elements. Yet he continued to travel throughout his life to share the gospel and encourage God’s people.
Paul apparently faced bandits, the hatred of his own countrymen, and rejection by the Gentiles. He was in danger from false brethren. He was in danger in the city, and he was in danger in the country. It seemed he had to be always on his guard in spite of being exhausted and in pain.
Paul knew what it was to miss a meal. He knew what it was to be thirsty. He understood what it meant to go without sustenance over prolonged periods of time. He knew what it meant to be inadequately clothed and shiver from the cold. You would think that all of these trials and dangers would consume Paul’s every thought.
He then says something that is truly amazing and heart-wrenching to me. As much as he endured, he said these were but outward things. There were intervals of time between these things. However, there was one thing that was Paul’s constant companion; the care of all the churches!
There are still men and women around the world that endure at least some of the dangers that Paul endured for their faith in Jesus Christ. Some of us have only known perhaps a few of these things in our lives, and even then, not enough to make us truly uncomfortable over an extended period of time. However, the true ministers of Christ all share this one thing. The care of all the churches comes upon us every day.
May God grant that we never lose our concern for the welfare of all His churches everywhere!