July 27, 2024

Going Without Sleep

2 Corinthians 6:3-10; 11:24-31

I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep. . . .

—  2 Corinthians 11:27

In these passages Paul describes many of his sufferings for the cause of Christ. In a way these litanies can sound like boasting, and Paul admits that. But his aim, he says, is to show his own weakness in comparison to Christ.

Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus changed his life forever (Acts 9). The Lord called him to be an apostle to the Gentiles—non-Jewish peoples—so Paul traveled to countless destinations, mostly walking, sometimes on a donkey or riding in a cart, and other times by ship. He spent many nights in unfamiliar and uncomfortable places—perhaps frequently on the cold, hard ground. Though sometimes he probably fell asleep from sheer exhaustion, he often went for long periods without enough sleep or without sleep at all. He also may have spent many nights filled with anxiety about impending dangers or concerns for his fledgling churches.

But Paul refuses to boast or wallow in the hardships he faced. He says that if he is going to boast, he will boast only about Jesus, who suffered so much more for him. Paul counts it as a joy that he has had the opportunity to serve Jesus.

If we are tempted to wallow in our own loss of sleep and hardships, we too should remember and boast in Jesus.

Lord Jesus, you suffered on the cross and died for us. Help us, we pray, to bear our crosses as we seek to follow and serve you. Amen.

About the author — Kurt Selles

Kurt Selles is the director of ReFrame Ministries and serves as the Executive Editor of Today. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to ReFrame, he served 19 years in Taiwan and China with CRC World Missions. Kurt later taught missions at Beeson Divinity School, where he also acted as the director of the school’s Global Center. Kurt and his wife, Vicki, reside in Grand Rapids and have three adult children.

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