“When do things cease to matter?”
An old lady used to tell her four sons, “If it isn’t going to matter 100 years from now, then its probably not worth worrying about.” Whether it made any difference to their stress levels, I know not, but it is worth thinking about. The apostle Paul was settled about the cares of this world. “Food and clothing” were all he needed (1Tim.6:8). Reluctantly, Paul conceded that life did get tough for him. He told the Corinthian brethren that he had faced shipwrecks, imprisonments, bandits, countless beatings (but only one stoning), exposure, and a host of other discomforts while out and about preaching, however, he felt that to mention these was madness (2Cor.11-12). All these trials were proof of his dedication to his apostolic calling. There was nothing that he would not repeat if asked to do so by his Saviour.
One doesn’t need to wonder if the last of the trials mentioned in 2 Corinthians 11 were the ones that really mattered to Paul: “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?” (2Cor.11:28-29). All the others were personal and physical trials. These were the reasons he endured those trials. His hand to hand combat with satanic forces was over the souls of others. He woke up and went to sleep concerned about the churches of Christ. With the names and faces of his struggling brethren before him, him cried out to God while feeling the weakness of his fellow saints. He felt the inward burning of a spiritual father whose children were being tempted and deceived by a relentless evil foe. These were Paul’s real concerns. All the rest didn’t really concern him. These were the things that he believed mattered. Paul would rephrase the old lady’s wise words. I think he would say: “If it isn’t going to matter in Eternity, then its probably not worth worrying about.”