Paul probably experienced more problems in life than most of us (at one point despairing even of life), yet he was able to maintain mission focus. How? The difference between knowledge and belief.
From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness; besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:24-28 NKJV)
On at least one occasion, it was more than he felt he could bear. I’m sure you’ve never felt like that (sarcasm).
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. (2 Corinthians 1:8 NKJV)
How do we deal with such things? Paul has the answer:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God… (Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV)
You’re told that, but how do you do it? Paul came to this conclusion:
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. (Philippians 4:11 NKJV)
How Paul might have done that is the lesson we need to learn.
Paul was content, perhaps because he knew the Lord better than us. We’ve all heard “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; (Proverbs 3:5 NKJV).”
But how do you do that? The difference between knowledge and belief.
Every day as I drive over a bridge I have the knowledge that bridge will safely carry me over to the other side. However, if I didn’t believe it, there’s not a snowball’s chance in Hell I’d drive over.
All Christians (at least who read the Bible) have knowledge, but only some develop belief from that knowledge. I’m sure Paul was one of those — where did Paul end up?
But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24 NKJV)
Put aside those troubling things you can’t do anything about. As Jack Sparrow is reported to have said “The problem isn’t the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.”
What attitude? Simple — who or what is God to you?
That’s what gets you through from 3AM to 6AM. If your god is unreliable or uncaring, you’ve got problems.
I’d submit to you it’s not what you know about God which gets you through the night, but what you believe. Everyone knows standard Bible verses, yet some make it through trials, others not as well.
Paul told Timothy:
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. ( 2 Timothy 1:12)
If you can do that, you’ll end up as Paul.