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6/5/2022 The Benefits of Hardship ~Rev. Bernie Chung

My wife and I were infected with the new coronary pneumonia. After just a week, we are happy to tell you that our latest test results are negative. Thank God for His healing and care! We are very grateful to the brothers and sisters for your prayers and your love to provide healthy and delicious food for us. May our Lord Himself repay you for your loving kindness.

Have you ever experienced the so-called “unceasing misfortunes”? It seems that calamities come in waves and one may have lost hope in our Lord to turn things around. One often wonders what benefits the various difficulties we have experienced bring? Lost love, unemployment, divorce, broken family, loss of health, etc. are unfortunate occurrences that we may not fully understand why God wants us to go through, but we can trust that God would use these circumstances for His glory nonetheless.

The Scriptures record the arrest of the Apostle Paul three times, but it is likely that other incidences of captivity have not been included. Acts chapters 16 and 22, as well as 2 Timothy 2:8-9, all mention his arrests on three separate missionary journeys. There are many humorous routines regarding the Apostle Paul recorded in the Scriptures. When Paul enters a new city to preach, we notice that he would first go to the synagogue. Soon after preaching the Gospel, he would be falsely accused and beaten, sent to prison, and finally driven out of the city. His work never ends. He would go to another city repeating the same preaching experience again—first the synagogue, second the prison, lastly deportation out of the city.

God actually uses the predicament of the Apostle Paul to spread the Gospel. In the Philippi prison, Paul leads the jailer and his entire family to believe in the Lord and be saved. It turns out that confinement in prison is not the end of evangelism for Paul, but a different beginning. While in prison the Apostle Paul writes four prison epistles: Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians. These epistles have inspired many missionaries to proclaim the Word of God boldly around the world. Faced with the threat of the death penalty, Paul realizes in Philippians 1:20, "... I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” These dilemmas are opportunities because the Apostle Paul relies totally on the Lord Jesus, and every difficulty he has faced strengthens his faith and also becomes a precious opportunity to glorify the Lord.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, may God have mercy on us. As we encounter difficulties, let’s respond like the Apostle Paul to utilize these experiences to strengthen our faith and seize them as opportunities to glorify Our Lord. Amen!

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