Apostle Paul got into a lot of trouble during the days of his ministry because he preached Jesus Christ. Some of it involved jail time. He experienced persecution from those that hated him. This was just par for the course in his thinking, I am sure.
But, according to what he told the church at Corinth, there must have been a certain experience of deep trouble that affected him hard emotionally. Here is how he described this trouble. He said that this trouble “pressed him out of measure,” in which he was admitting this trouble weighed him down beyond the ability to cope. It is almost incongruous that the great Apostle Paul would be shoved down to feel like that.
He said that he was “above strength.” The Apostle Paul without strength? Goodness!
But, his description is even more shocking when he confessed that he “despaired even of life.” In other words, he despaired even to the point of not seeing any way out or being able to escape from whatever it was he had to endure. To me, this was a description of feeling lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon track.
It is hard for me to imagine that Paul was in such trouble to the point of depression. Apparently he was. But, by contrast, it is not hard to consider that sometimes things get so bad for us that we feel just as low. What was it that helped Paul? What is it that will help us when our troubles bring us down? Statements in the context give us crucial things to consider.
What is seen first of all is that Paul found the principles of God dependable. These principles mentioned by him include the grace of God, the peace of God, the comfort of God, and the consolation of God. These helped Paul survive this serious low point in his life.
Consider that when life is cranking hard on your soul, your mind, and your heart—-for whatever reason—-the principles of God countermands the downward affect with spiritual sustaining manifested in His grace, His peace, His comfort, and His consolation.
Truths to remember when you are pressed out of measure include “My grace is sufficient for you,” and “My peace I give unto you.” When you get to the point of despair, remember that God “comforts us in all our tribulation,” and, “as you are partakers of suffering so shall you also be of the consolation.” These are hard-core principles on which we can depend to bring us up when trouble brings us down.
Second, Paul depended upon the preservation of God. What is so important about God’s preservation? Paul pointed out that the Lord has given to us “the earnest of the Spirit.” “Earnest” points to the confidence found concerning the wedding band.
Shortly after we were married, Terry point to the wedding band on my finger she had given me, and said, “This means that you are mine!”
By contrast, if anything, God has given to us the Holy Spirit to prove His mindset that we are His. That being the case, the Lord will not let “His” go down the tubes. He will not let “His” be utterly defeated by trouble. God will not let “His” be taken out by extreme adversity. God is going to give “His” grace, peace, comfort, and consolation because we belong to Him.
But, He will also provide something else on which we can depend. He will provide deliverance. This involves an amazing accounting from Paul. Despite the way he felt from the trouble he experienced, God thrilled his soul with deliverance. Paul said that his deliverance was so out-standing, it was as though God had raised him from the dead. If it worked for Paul, it will surely work for us.
In all of this, we need to keep an important point in mind, and, it is, to give
God time to work things out. Yes, there are principles on which we can depend. We can depend upon the preservation of God, and the deliverance of God. But, when troubles bring us down, it prevails upon us to give God time to work things out. He always does in due course.
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio.