2 Corinthians 1:8
“For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.”
Sometimes, it is comforting to know we are not the only ones to face difficulty. Paul was a godly man involved in the business of the Kingdom, yet he found himself face to face with trials that caused him to despair. Fortunately, Paul walked through those trials and came out the other side with insight to help each of us. He points out three things which should guide us through our difficult days.
First, he speaks of the comfort that comes from the Lord. One of my favorite titles for God is found in this chapter. He is called, “The Father of mercy and the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). Paul went on to describe the mercy of God, explaining it is both sufficient and abundant. He declared, no matter what we might be facing, God has comfort available for us, and this comfort is so great we will be able to pass it on to others who are in the midst of their own trying times.
Second, Paul speaks of the confidence he had in the midst of his trials. He speaks of trusting the Lord, because He is the one who raises the dead. This reminds me of Abraham who was willing to offer Isaac, because he believed God could raise the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19), No matter what we are facing, if we face it with confidence in God and His word, we are trusting the One who can do the impossible.
Third, Paul explains, he did not walk this road alone, but was accompanied by the prayers of the saints. Often, when a friend is facing difficulty, we feel like there is something we should do, but we don’t know what it is. We do not have the financial resources to fix their problems, or the strength to lift them from their despair. Instead of feeling helpless, we should come alongside them in prayer. When Paul was released from his Roman imprisonment, he attributed it to the prayers of the saints coming alongside the work of the Spirit.
Finally, Paul speaks of having conducted himself with godly sincerity. In other words, he lived righteously through his trials. Instead of using the difficulty as an opportunity to compromise his walk with God, he chose to set a standard for others to follow. Too often, we allow difficult circumstances to give us excuse to sin. We complain, backbite, murmur, wander, or even indulge in vice, thinking our hardship gives us license. Paul chose to trust in and walk with Christ through his trial, and come out the other end as a shining example.