Dangerous Adventure, Take Heart
Following Christ is a dangerous adventure. Take Paul’s story. He details the perils and risks of living a life for Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 11:24-27, we read just a small sample of his journey:
“Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”
What a list.
The violence, the turmoil, the struggle to meet basic needs… these hardships reveal that Paul’s life was far from easy. Not only did he face external danger from nature’s worst elements, he also experienced relational danger.
He was rejected, beaten, and stoned. He had to confront the lies and manipulation of some who falsely misled believers. He felt vulnerable with those of a different racial and ethnic background and from people who looked the same as him. These relationships are included in Paul’s list of dangers because sometimes, the emotional stress from relationships can cause equal or more pain than physical stress.
Paul doesn’t stop there. He ends his list with the internal pressure he feels because of his anxiety for churches. Paul admits that he struggles with anxiety.
As a teacher, I see people struggle daily with anxiety. They are stressed out, overworked, and pressured. My students might not face robbers or shipwrecks, but they sure face dangerous relationships. They sure face dangerous feelings of anxiety.
There is hope. Paul’s example reminds us that being a Christian doesn’t equal having an easy life. We can’t expect a life of comfort because even the writer of the majority of the New Testament experienced a very, very difficult life. When we face danger, we are comforted in the fact that we are not alone. Our danger is temporary.
Jesus reminds us who has the ultimate say over danger.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Jesus has already overcome. He has already conquered death. Nothing is too big or too painful or too much. He can deal with the worst of human nature. He can deal with our dangers. He hasn’t promised a perfect life, but He’s promised something better. He’s promised that in our hardships, we can know the end result. We can remember our earthly life is one of danger, but our eternal life is one of peace. We can take heart.