Sometimes life piles up on you. You find yourself having to deal with several difficulties or stressful situations all at once. You resolve one problem only to have it followed by something else that is just as trying or even greater than what you just went through. It seems that you have to deal with one thing after another and never seem to get a break. When you think you can relax and breathe, then, “bam,” something else sideswipes your life. You are left feeling how much more you can take.
The Apostle Paul found himself facing many trying times throughout his life. As a missionary of the Gospel, Paul encountered various situations and events in his life that press down upon him. In his letter to the Church at Corinth, Paul recounts some of these experiences: “Five times I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a flogging. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked. And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11: 24-28) Paul had to deal with one thing after another.
We could all develop our lists of trying times: sickness, financial difficulties, relationship problems, depression, work stresses, and the like. We often find ourselves juggling more than one situation at a time. We can easily find ourselves overwhelmed. We can also sink in despair, wondering how much more than we can take. Sometimes we might feel like giving up.
Paul prayed to God to help him through these difficulties. Paul spoke of his challenges as being like a thorn in his flesh. Paul writes that from God, he heard, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.“ (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10) Paul discovered that regardless of what he was facing at any time, that God’s grace was sufficient to help him through it. God’s grace doesn’t prevent difficulties from entering our lives, but God’s grace helps us navigate through our trials with the assurance that we are not alone. And when we live with an awareness of God’s presence, then we can experience God’s peace.
So, in faith, we can face one thing after another with confidence in the one God who loves us more than any other. Thus, even in our weakest moments, God makes us strong.