Don't Despair

don't despair“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ...the Father of mercies and God of all comfort who comforts us in our tribulation. The Greek word used for tribulation here is literally translated as pressure. It’s the sensation you would experience if someone pressed down on your head and tried to push you into the ground. You’d feel the strain in your neck and your shoulders. The tension would permeate your whole body" - 2 Corinthians 1:1-11. Sound familiar? 

The Apostle Paul understood trouble. “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered,” he wrote. “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death” (2 Corinthians 1:8).

Paul’s fellow believers were dealing with more than skinned knees or a bad day at the office. He recognized their life and death situations. He understood losing loved ones, painful relationships, and setbacks at work. He knew about pressure.

He knew what it meant to “despair even of life.”

When he spoke of comfort, it wasn’t in nice religious platitudes.  The word he used for comfort comes from the Latin word fortis, meaning strength. His brothers and sisters needed their faith to survive the pressures they faced.

Sometimes under great pressure, we forget that God is there.  We stop worshiping and praising Him and fail to realize that trials are a part of life for one of three reasons:

• We are human beings living in a fallen world. • Trials afflict our lives when we are disobedient.  There are consequences to deliberately going against the will of God. • God permits trials.

What? God allows these things? Yes, and Paul explains why: “In our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God...On Him we have set our hope.”

When the pressure comes bearing down and we cannot cope, God longs for us to turn only to Him.  When we recognize our weakness, we will set our hope on Him and Him alone.

“When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else when you get into the light.” —Oswald Chambers

[Photo: Kevin Carden, CreationSwap]