The apostle Paul is one of my favourite Bible characters. I often wonder how he would be accepted in today's world. We like people with a Christian mask: a smile and uplifting words that make us feel good. We expect people's faith to be strong enough to lift them beyond the tears when they have a tragedy. We expect their words to be kind, considerate, correctly spoken, and with a positive tone.
Paul was honest with his emotions. He was just not a pretender. If he was angry, people knew he was angry. If his feelings were hurt, he showed it. He often felt he had to defend himself. He was who he was, and he didn't try to hide it.
Romans 7:19 – For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. (NIV)
If he was in a good mood, his high spirits showed up in what he did and what he wrote. He wrote to the Philippians:
Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, Rejoice! (NIV)
Paul's faith in God was strong enough that he felt accepted by God without condition, and because of that, he wasn't driven to be something he wasn't.
Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (NIV)
Will God stop loving us if we cry when we hurt? Does God expect us to smile and answer, "Fine", when our heart is breaking with grief? Paul would have said, "No".
Prayer: Lord, help us to be honest in our emotions, not putting on a front and saying "Fine" when our heart is breaking. Lord, You know the truth. Even You wept when Lazarus died. May we develop the faith of Paul who was strong enough to be honest and yet feel accepted. Amen.