In the Bible, we learn of a man named Saul who persecuted Christians. He unexpectedly met Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus and at that time had a life-changing experience. His “change of heart” led to his conversion to become a follower of Jesus Christ and a name change to Paul, as well as many other significant changes. After Paul became a follower of Jesus Christ, and he proceeded with his ministry involving his Lord and Savior, he eventually met opposition from people who did not agree with what he had to say or his beliefs.
During Paul’s ministry, he was persecuted, beaten with iron rods, stoned, imprisoned, starved and denied basic essentials for living. As he lived through these troubling times, the Bible reflects that he did not lose faith (in his Lord and Savior), hope or optimism about what the future would hold for him. During tough times, Paul offers a suggestion about managing stress and anxiety (Philippians 4:6-7): “Do not be anxious about anything, but with prayer and petition and thanksgiving in your heart, present your concerns before God and may the peace that passeth all understanding guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
The Apostle Paul recommends we turn our concerns over to God instead of becoming anxious.
The Apostle Paul suffered much misery toward the end of his ministry and his life, but did not appear to lose hope or faith in his calling and his mission. Somehow he maintained internal strength and fortitude. Philippians 4:13, written by Paul, offers some insight regarding his internal strength and motivation during the tough times he was experiencing: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” In this passage, the Apostle Paul does not take credit for his ability to survive through these tough times. He clearly indicates his strength and abilities come from his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
As we are faced with tough and challenging times, there are many coping styles we could choose which could be helpful, or perhaps not so helpful. Perhaps we can follow the guidance that Paul provided. A final Bible verse that is inspirational and helpful during tough times is Isaiah 40:31: “For those who trust in the Lord will gain new strength; they’ll soar on wings like eagles, run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint.”
James Reasor is a volunteer chaplain with Ballad Health.