Even a surface reading of the New Testament reveals that the Apostle Paul didn’t have it easy. It really didn’t matter what town he traveled to, his message was met with pain, rejection, and violence. In spite of that, he continued to spread the Good News about Jesus and some people responded and from those initial converts, churches were birthed. But…back to the pain.
When he was in the Roman colony of Philippi, he was stripped, beaten with rods, unjustly thrown into jail, and survived an earthquake. This is all recorded in Acts 16. Sometime later, Paul pens a letter to the church that he started in that city. As he opens his epistle, he says, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,” Philippians 1:3.
Here’s what’s curious to me. Didn’t Paul have a “less than perfect” time in Philippi? Wasn’t he beaten? Didn’t he survive an earthquake? How could he say that he was thankful“in all of his remembrance?” Can I suggest he practiced selective memory loss? He focused on all the great things that happened there, not on all the painful things. What a great way to handle the challenges that you and I face daily. New mothers often forget or remember less painfully the pain of childbirth soon after their baby is born. It’s called the “halo effect.” The joy of having delivered a healthy baby and the moment of holding a child for the first time lessens the memory of pain. It’s not that the discomfort has gone away, but the happiness felt after labor changes the way you remember. Next time you struggle with a painful, difficult past, try the “halo effect.” Focus on the good. Paul did. You can too.