But whatever anyone dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? I am talking like a madman—I am a better one: with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless floggings, and often near death. Five times I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked. And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I am not indignant?
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus (blessed be he forever!) knows that I do not lie. In Damascus, the governor under King Aretas guarded the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped from his hands.
2 Corinthians 11:21b-33; NRSVue
Yes, this is Paul, but Paul does tells us to follow him, his example, as he follows Christ. The wear and tear of life are telling during a day, during a lifetime. Sometimes I feel like I’m being pulled into an undertow from which there’s no coming back. The tension can be palpable. We could chalk that up to spiritual warfare, weaknesses we have which need to be worked through- like in my case over the years, anxiety, whatever it might be. But there’s no doubt, life has ongoing tensions related to responsibilities, challenges, problems, concerns, even dangers and tragedies. Life on planet earth is not for the faint of heart.
I’ve found over and over again that when I accept the tension of life, I gradually usually sooner than later start to sense help from God, and in time a nearly unsettling peace because it seems unreal, settles in. But life goes on with all the conundrums, with our own weaknesses. I wish we could live in that unsettling settled peace, and maybe if I live long enough, I’ll find that I live much more there than now. I can say that I do experience that peace more than in years past. But life isn’t easy for any of us. Just consider only for a moment what we’re facing today, and you can cut through the tension that easily comes with it, with a knife.
It’s not easy to accept the tension of life. It’s one thing when you’re on the other side where’s there’s at least some blessed relief, quite another when you’re in the thick of it. But that’s part of our calling in Christ, to live in that very same weakness in which Christ lived. In that we’ll find Christ’s strength and not just in our own lives, but in us together in this experience in Christ.