For the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the Body of Christ
I Believed and Spoke
Paul’s experience -what is behind the inspired letters, Paul, the Apostle, with his struggles and pains- is richly contained in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. His dangers are found there while he exercises his ministry, his agony as he wrote the first Epistle - even his intimate confessions saved for fourteen years.
But we would like to focus our attention on the passage from Chapter 4, from verse 7 and up to 13, to see Paul’s attitude in the midst of the suffering: "But we have this treasure in jars of clay (the treasure is Christ; the jar of clay is Paul), so that the excellence of the power is from God and not from us (there is no excellence in the believer but what he has of God). We are (here comes a breakdown of Paul’s experience) hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (as if to say, always living limiting experiences, as on the brink of disaster and defeat). We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus (first mention of death), so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death (second mention of death) for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us (third mention of death), but life is at work in you (after this –of experiencing so much death– one might think that Paul has nothing more to do, however, it is not so). But having the same spirit of faith (this is the spirit, the attitude that encourages him; this is the key to his victory), according to what is written (Scripture determines Paul’s experience, not his adversaries): “I believed; therefore I have spoken” (this is a quote from Psalm 116: 10; Paul only mentions half of it; the other half says: "I am greatly afflicted;" it is to say that Paul’s experience had also been the psalmist that had inspired him). We also believe and therefore speak" (in the midst of death that surrounds him, Paul believes and speaks) (2 Corinthians 4:7-13).
Will be Paul be stopped due to difficult circumstances? Will it cause him to reflect deeply about why he is being beaten? Will he draw accounts to decide whether or not to stay in battle? No. What he does is to believe and speak. Ignoring what comes against him; he attends to the word – his nourishment, his guide - and believes it. Then, in accordance to his calling, declares his message.
This is why, again and again, Paul calls on the churches to pray for him so that he may be bold in the proclamation of the message. Nothing should silence the mouth of a heart that has believed. "I believed, therefore I spoke", says the psalmist. "We also believe, therefore we also speak", adds Paul, joining the caravan of faith of many believers who once gave the hard battle.
What will we say? If we also believe, we also shall talk.