Paul is speaking from his prison cell in Philippians. Through his ministry, he had experienced severe suffering in body, mind, and soul. He considered that he could give up: “The desire to break camp here and be with Christ is powerful.” (vs. 23). However, giving up as a messenger for Christ wasn’t an option, and he trusted that God would help him get through the suffering.
Years ago, my stomach perforated, and the pain from the event and subsequent surgery was intense. After six weeks of recovering from the surgery, I had one point at the lower part of the scar that hurt. When I saw the surgeon, I pointed to my gut and said, “I still hurt right here.” The doctor grinned and said, “If I hit your toe with a hammer, you’d forget about the pain in your gut.”
We center on the current pain we have—be it from a relationship in turmoil, from being betrayed by a friend or co-worker, or the physical pain from a broken body. The pain is real and is signaling the body, mind, or soul needs healing. The doctor’s wisdom, “If I hit your toe, you’d forget about the pain in your stomach” works for the pains in our minds and soul, too.
Dear God, let us focus on the pain your Son suffered on the cross to remind us that our pain on earth is temporary. Amen.