The apostle Paul took his commitment to telling the truth seriously. That’s why we read in his own words a pretty stark summation of his life, showing how God has cared for him amidst a mass of suffering, as found in 2 Corinthians 1.
In contemporary language, that would be classified as severe depression. There’s no way to sugar-coat someone writing that they “despaired even of life.” And yet, what I find interesting in all of this is that Paul is also probably the most mature Christian who has ever lived. He stands head and shoulders above most others when it comes to boldly declaring the faith, representing Jesus and suffering for His cause.
I want to remind all of us whose hearts may hurt that we are not talking about a bad man in pain when we reference Paul and learn from him. We are looking at a good man hurting—a godly man hurting. He’s a man hurting even as a result of the things he was doing to advance God’s kingdom in the world!
See, a lot of believers think that if they follow Jesus, serve Him and love Him, they are not supposed to hurt.
This world comes with trouble. It just does. The sooner we can accept that reality and stop ourselves from trying to spiritualize every painful situation, loss or difficulty we encounter, we will be better positioned to weather it well.
People get sick on this planet. People die. People get abused. Go hungry. Lose relationships. Accidents happen. Careers go south. Loneliness lingers. As I referenced earlier, Jesus reminded us that this world comes with troubles and tribulations (John 16:33). But the difference for kingdom followers comes in knowing that because of Jesus in us, we can overcome the onslaught of hurtful scenarios we face.
Romans 5:2-4by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4and patience, experience; and experience, hope:
2 Corinthians 1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia: grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Comfort in Tribulation
3Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 5For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 6And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. 8For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: 9but we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: 10who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; 11ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.
12For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward. 13For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end; 14as also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are our’s in the day of the Lord Jesus.
15And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit; 16and to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judæa. 17When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay? 18But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay. 19For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. 20For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. 21Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; 22who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
23Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth. 24Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.
About Dr. Tony Evans:
Dr. Tony Evans, bestselling author and pastor, understands life’s hardships firsthand. In less than two years, he lost his brother, sister, brother-in-law, two nieces, father, and wife. Join him on this 5 day journey and see that there is hope for the hurting: His name is Jesus. For information about this devotion log on to http://hopeforthehurtingbook.com