The glue that united Paul’s thought and life with the message he preached and the mission he conducted was his suffering as an apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul’s suffering was the vehicle through which the saving power of God, climactically revealed in Christ, was being made known in the world. To reject the suffering Paul was therefore to reject Christ; to identify with Paul in his suffering was a sure sign that one was being saved by the “foolishness” and “stumbling block” of the cross.
Scott Hafemann, “The role of Suffering in the mission of Paul,” ed. P. Bolt and M. Thompson (Downers Grove: IVP, 2000), 140. For a similar article by Hafemann that is available as a free PDF download, check out his “A Call to Pastoral Suffering“. (Hafemann is the Senior Theological Mentor for the First SAET Fellowship.)