READ : 2 Corinthians 1:8-11
It is not easy to be a Christian. It was not easy for the missionary Paul. As he proclaimed Christ in Asia Minor, he thought he would not survive due to intense pressures. He describes his experiences as hardships, despair, pressure, inability to endure, living under a sentence of death.
Maybe you are surprised to hear such language from Paul. We remember the fearless apostolic preacher singing praises with Silas in a Philippian dungeon. He was content regardless of want or plenty. But here he admits to mounting pressure and despair. He reminds us that God doesn’t promise us an easy life. Pressures and discouragements never end. We feel we have to run after joy. It’s difficult to remain faithful when temptations pull on us and pressures escalate.
But while we languish in our own inability to press on, God faithfully supplies all our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Paul reminds us that the same struggles that inflict us with pain also teach the quickly forgotten lesson that believers must rely upon God rather than self. With troubles all around us, God is our only hope.
Gracious God, deliver us from despair and hardships. But if they come, use them to teach us that in our weakness you are strong. In Jesus’ name. Amen.