Paul suffered a great deal in order to fulfill the ministry God gave him. In his efforts to bring the gospel of Christ to people all over the Roman world he suffered persecution form those who opposed him, but also endured many other hardships some of which brought him face to face with death. He writes, “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:24-28).
The apostle also wrote to the Colossians concerning his ministry and the sufferings that he endured in fulfilling it (Col 1:24-29). Like the other apostles, Paul rejoiced in his sufferings (Acts 5:41), and saw them as sharing in the sufferings of Christ. He also indicated that his suffering was for the church, including the Colossians, as he labored to bring the word of God to them. It was through his sacrificial service that many came to have the hope of eternal life through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul practiced what he preached to Timothy, “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2Ti 2:3). On this Memorial Day Weekend, may we remember the good soldiers of the United States military who gave their lives for our freedom. May we also remember those who sacrificed so much to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to others. May we be willing to do the same!