Paul’s Light Affliction - The Warrior's Journey®

Paul’s Light Affliction

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

. Photo by is licensed under CC By 2.0

Are they servants of Christ?  I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea.”  (2 Corinthians 11:23-25) 

These are just the tip of the iceberg of Paul’s suffering on behalf of the Gospel. Yet, Paul described his afflictions as “light, easy, and manageable” in 2 Corinthians 4:17.  How could he possibly describe these sufferings as “light”? 

Well, Paul considered his sufferings light when compared to the glories and joys of heaven. In Romans 8:18, Paul said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present life are nothing when compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us.” I suspect that the first minute we spend in heaven will erase all the sorrow and pain we’ve endured in this life. Our first moments in heaven will make us wish we had been more faithful under fire and had served the Lord more fervently. God will so reward us for our service that we’ll have wished we had worked far harder. Yes, compared to the glory, joy, and exultation we experience in heaven, the afflictions of life are quite light. 

Paul also considered his afflictions light when he compared them with the suffering of Jesus. Jesus suffered far more than Paul or any of us ever will. The whipping He suffered was not confined to thirty-nine lashes, as the Law prescribed. The Romans put no limit on the number of lashes they inflicted.  And since the whips they used were embedded with sharp pieces of bone and metal, death usually occurred from such a whipping. And Jesus suffered Roman crucifixion – an agonizing death reserved for the worst criminals. In contrast, Paul, with the status of a Roman citizen, endured the quick and relatively merciful death of beheading.   

But whenever Paul described the sufferings of Jesus, his thoughts went far beyond Christ’s physical pain. When Paul described Jesus as our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) he introduced a whole different dimension of suffering that Jesus endured. For as the Passover Lamb was specifically required to be roasted with fire (Exodus 12:9-10), even so Jesus would endure the consuming fire of God’s wrath and judgments against our sin. The cross was the ultimate altar upon which the ultimate Sacrifice was offered – the Sacrifice that fully absorbed and quenched God’s wrath and satisfied His justice. Think of it. Jesus suffered something that no believer, neither Paul nor you nor I, will ever have to suffer. Yes, compared to Jesus, our suffering is light. 


  • Read Hebrews 12:3. Who does God command us to focus on when we suffer? 
  • Jesus said, “A slave is not above His master” (Matthew 10:24). If Jesus suffered affliction, as did the apostles, should we consider ourselves exempt? 
  • Let’s follow in the steps of our Lord and arm ourselves for suffering. 

Let's Talk

100% Confidential | Warrior-to-warrior

We respond within 24 hours and can provide community support, resources, and referrals.