2 Corinthians 1:8-11 For 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: 9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: 10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; 11 Ye 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.
It’s easy to assume that problems in biblical days looked totally different from those we face today. So you might wonder what a first-century missionary can teach us about triumphing over adversity.
Though Paul’s culture was quite different from ours, some things remain the same—such as temptation, hardship, persecution, and sin. Satan never changes, either. Therefore, when the apostle wrote of being burdened beyond his strength, he had experience to back up his words.
Paul “despaired even of life” (2 Cor. 1:8), but trusting in a God who raises the dead, he believed the Lord would sustain him during that season of conflict. Paul learned to trust God during affliction in the same way we do: He was thrown into high-pressure situations with impossible odds, and yet he saw the Lord triumph. We understand divine power when we reach the limits of our own strength and feel God’s supernatural energy kick in.
Divine strength is more than sufficient to overcome worldly hardships, satanic temptations, and consequences of sin. That isn’t to say believers can avoid all sorrow and pain. Rather, we have the promise that God will meet our needs in every heartache and trial (Phil. 4:19). Our faith grows stronger when we trust Him in times of affliction.
God’s strength is available to all believers who confess their weakness and inadequacy to Him. Sometimes a troubled soul has only enough stamina left to admit, “Father, I cannot. If You don’t, it’s simply not going to happen.” In effect, we throw ourselves at God’s feet and wait for Him to keep His promise.