2 Corinthians 1:8-11 (NIV)
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
At many points throughout our Christian life, God will ask us to do things that are way out of our comfort zone and even safety zone.
Often, because of bad beliefs and information, we think that when it gets hard it means we shouldn’t do it. As if when God asks you to do something He will make it stress-free, opposition free, danger-free, and worry-free.
In the verses listed above, Paul had found himself in many situations that made him feel out of his comfort zone and some that even made him feel like he was at death’s door. If he believed like we do, he probably would have turned around because God was closing that door of opportunity.
Instead, Paul looked at his trials and suffering as wide open opportunities.
Opportunities to trust God
“this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God”
Paul felt like these things even though not pleasant gave him opportunities to trust God even more. Trust is crucial to any relationship and Paul’s most important relationship was with Jesus.
So he didn’t’ back down from difficulties and fears but instead saw them as opportunities to boast all the more gladly about his weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on him (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Opportunities to live heaven bound
“this happened that we might not rely on God, who raises the dead”
Paul believes that God has power over death. He has seen God’s resurrection power and he backs it up with the way he lives.
Many of us are so afraid to die that we never live. The assurance of life after death—resurrection—should change the way we risk, think, act, live.
Opportunities to build faith
“On Him, we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us”
Faith is active. It was never meant to stagnate. As Paul sees God deliver him over and over again his faith grows.
Yes, he put his faith in Jesus for the forgiveness and salvation from sin but now he lives life continually pursuing and trusting Jesus by faith.
Opportunities to make way for others to minister
Some people seem to be gifted by God to be the forerunners in ministry—Paul was one of them. He was called by God to carry the gospel to unreached areas of the world. This not only took the gospel to new areas but also allowed others to participate in his ministry.
Others would come along after and take advantage of the doors Paul opened and the new relationships created through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Difficult doesn’t always mean you shouldn’t do it.
Just because things get difficult is not an indication that you are not meant to do it. It might just mean that you have to trust God as you endure and work hard to make something happen.
We read about Paul’s reach and effectiveness because he didn’t give up.
Don’t give up. Trust God. Work hard.