I just left some meetings where believers who were jailed in Sudan and kidnapped in Afghanistan shared their experiences.  It reminds us of that we need to count the cost beyond the issues of living and doing business in a hostile country.

Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians is an epistle that focuses on the theme of “hardships”.

Paul talks about . . . hardships, under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts, we felt the sentence of death.
And Paul’s thoughts about this?  He continues…  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God  who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8-9)

Throughout 2 Corinthians Paul references his hardships…
… We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God
… We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
… in troubles, hardships and distresses; imprisonments and riots; in hard  work, sleepless nights and hunger.
… We had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn, conflicts on the outside, fears within.

Paul then begins his most thorough and exhaustive catalog of what he suffered in comparison to others . . . 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 stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open seas, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger  from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in  the country, in danger at sea; and  in danger  from false brothers. I have  labored and toiled and have  often gone without sleep. I have known hunger and  thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face  daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?  (2 Corinthians 11:23-29)

We know that through suffering we are perfected (Hebrews 10:2).  And Peter tells us in his 2nd letter to Timothy that all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Let us remember in counting the cost of doing B4T there’s more involved than raising start-up capital, or denying our kids to all the perks of American schools.  In doing B4T, we want to remember to count it all joy, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.

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