The Best and Most Useful Often the Most Afflicted
1 Corinthians 4:11-13
Even to this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place;…

I. HISTORY AND PERSONAL OBSERVATION TEACH US THIS. Read Hebrews 11:35-38. Paul's case is a striking illustration. Note the

(1) variety,

(2) painfulness,

(3) strangeness, of the apostolic afflictions.

See also another list (2 Corinthians 11:23-27).


1. Affliction is not always significant of Divine displeasure. Often we have chastisement because of our sins, but sometimes sorrow comes to us when most firmly we tread the path of duty. Under such circumstances it should not dismay or depress us.

2. Suffering - even severe suffering - is not always a valid reason for relinquishing active service. Some people are too anxious to "retire." Work done under suffering is sometimes marvellously effective, Our woes fit us to deal with the woe begone. When under great stress we feel that we can do nothing, we sometimes become Samsons; when we feel that we can do everything, we are generally mere Philistines.

3. Much affliction need not necessarily be even a hindrance to us in our work. Paul's sufferings did not make him less active in the cause of Christ. He abounded in toil whilst he abounded in sorrow.

4. Affliction comes to us in the path of duty, it should not drive us from that path. Most of Paul's sorrows were caused by his zeal and faithfulness. He would preach Christ. To choose an easier path would not have been wise for him - is not wise for us.

5. Affliction is sanctified to God's faithful servants. Beyond all doubt Paul was greatly the better for his many sorrows. Humanly speaking, he could never have been Paul without them. That which seems likely to hinder may help. Men who have to do much have generally to suffer much. Biography furnishes multitudinous illustrations of this.

6. Extraordinary sufferings sometimes bear with them the promise of unusual usefulness. Idlers have thus been made remarkably diligent, sleepers have been awakened, the worldly have become consecrated. The first true and inspiring view of Christian service has been obtained from the flame of the furnace. The apprenticeship of some "of whom the world was not worthy" has been served in the fires. Some great lives have begun with martyrdom.

7. Affliction should be received in a spirit of meekness, even when it comes directly from men who have no reason to use us ill. Paul, when reviled, blessed; when persecuted, calmly endured it, without after retaliation; when defamed, he entreated (perhaps God to pardon his enemies). Herein Paul was like Christ. He employed conquering kindness. To imitate him will require much grace. It is often much easier to take affliction from the hands of God than from the hands of men. - H.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;

WEB: Even to this present hour we hunger, thirst, are naked, are beaten, and have no certain dwelling place.

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