WHAT IF GOD HAD NOT ALLOWED PAUL'S
Before his dramatic conversion, the apostle Paul was an aggressive
and brutal man. Being a fanatical Pharisee, he was an enemy of Christians and
persecuted them without pause. “Saul (Paul) was breathing threats and murder
against the disciples of the Lord and gladly consented to the death of Stephen”
(Acts 9:1). Yet God, in His mercy, began unfolding a plan that was to bring Paul
to Christ and then turn him into a dynamic, unstoppable force for the spreading
of the Gospel around the Roman Empire.
But God also had in store a long series of trials and tribulations that
were to make his Christian experience an enormously difficult and challenging
What if God had not added all the many trials to Paul’s Christian
experience? What if He had simply helped him carry his gospel responsibilities
without having to also bear all the suffering he also had to endure? Would that
not have been fairer? Would that not have made it easier for him to perform his
Paul’s life was overturned when Christ appeared to Him on his way to Damascus. A
bright light shone and he fell off his horse. Immediately he lost his sight and
became blind. The
forceful, brutal man was now ready
for some transforming.
After three days of blindness, Christ sent a messenger to Paul telling him the
good and bad news. He had been chosen to bring the Gospel to “the Gentiles,
Kings and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:14)—this was the good news. The bad
news was that he was going to suffer “many things” for Christ’s name’s
sake---and he did. Most of the Book of Acts is the story of Paul’s sufferings as
he goes about preaching the Gospel. Paul finally summarizes many of his
sufferings in II Cor. 11: 25-28).
“From the Jews five times I received
forty stripes minus one. 25Three 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; 26in 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; 27in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger
and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—28
Besides the many
persecutions Paul had to bear an infirmity we know little about. He fervently
beseeched God for healing but he got a firm no each time. “…a thorn in the flesh
was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me....” (I Corinthians 12: 7).
All in all, Christ’s prophecy about Paul’s sufferings were fulfilled.
Obviously if God decided to add all the suffering to Paul’s life He
had to have a good reason. To bring about a true lasting transformation, Paul
needed intensive spiritual therapy.
Paul was forceful and fiery. God, therefore, made
sure he had plenty of trials that would test his patience and would produce
longsuffering. Paul was harsh and judgmental. God made sure that his
many painful experiences would tenderize him. Paul had tendency toward pride and arrogance. God
made sure his preide was squeezed out of him. Paul understood that God knew what He was doing, and that His
intentions were only good. Paul knew that all things would work out for his
best and thus took all the afflictions with gladness. “Therefore I take pleasure
in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses
for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak then I am strong” (II Cor. 12:10).
Paul needed God’s intensive and transforming program. He had to be
cleansed, purified, solidified, and perfected. Had God not arranged for the many
trials and afflictions to befall him, he would not have been a proper and mighty
tool in God’s hands, and God would not have used him as powerfully as he did.
Because Paul endured and did go along with God’s
training program, at the end of his life he was able to confidently assert, “For
I am already been poured as a drink offering and the time of my departure is at
hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the
faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the
Lord, the righteous judge, will give
to me on that day…”
(II Timothy 4: 6-8).
IS GOD CRUEL? -- An In-Depth Analysis of God's Apparent
Acts of Cruelty in the Bible
CLICK ON TOPICS BELOW FOR A
Sodom and Gomorrah
Destruction of Canaanites
David's Punishment for the Census
Removal of Foreign Wives
Ananiah and Sapphira
Catastrophes of Last Days
LITERATURE FROM UCG.ORG
(No Follow up)
Why Does God Allow Suffering?
IS GOD CRUEL?