Something to think about
In the US sitcom Friends, Rachel experiences pain during her pregnancy, and rushes to hospital. Diagnosing Braxton Hicks contractions, a doctor refers to them as ‘mild discomfort’, and Ross, the father of her baby, quips that most women don’t feel them at all. Rachel’s response to the men has become infamous: ‘no uterus, no opinion’. The best judge of a person’s painful experience is the one feeling it!
The events that Paul refers to in these verses are not what most of us would call ‘slight momentary affliction’, a phrase I would consider too understated for a stubbed toe. He lists them throughout the letter: being whipped, beaten and stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, threatened by bandits, hungry, sleepless and abandoned. With my pastoral care hat on, I’d want to gently tell Paul that some of these are serious traumas, and that counselling might help him to process the impact of such suffering.
But I wouldn’t be wise to correct him. Paul’s perspective on his own life is absolutely rooted in hope: a sure and certain hope of the eternal future that he can’t yet see, but is promised by the God he can count on. Instead I might try looking at my own troubles through the same lens!