Paul did not picture himself as a victim. Despite tremendous physical discomfort and emotional turmoil, he believed he was under God’s sovereign hand. So instead of growing resentful and walking away from the faith, the apostle turned to the Lord and continued to mature spiritually.
We can learn much from Paul—He was determined to focus on God’s sovereignty rather than his own will. It’s easy to be bitter over the mayhem that another person has caused in our lives. However, the minute we start thinking that our enemies are in control, we’re defeated. The Bible says that God “has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all” (Ps. 103:19). He is in absolute control. We may not understand His reasons for permitting hardship or pain in our lives, but His plan is always for our good and His glory (Jer. 29:11).
Moreover, believers can learn from Paul’s commitment to focus on positive results rather than on personal agony. Pain, whether in the body or the heart, often absorbs all of a person’s attention. But there is no victory to be had in dwelling on our hurts. God has a plan for that anguish, and Paul is a good example. He rejoiced when the gospel spread to the Praetorian Guard—his jailers.
Difficult circumstances are crossroads in the believer’s life. If we take the path of blaming God for our strife, we’ll be dealing with resentment and negativity. But if we focus on our heavenly Father’s love and provision, we will find trust and hope as we seek to go His way.