We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead (2 Cor 1:8-9)
For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.(2 Cor 2: 4)
Who would imagine that a highly acclaimed, greatest apostle of all times would write such words? I am not talking about just any man here, I am speaking of a man who walked so closely with God that he would go on to write more than 75% of the New Testament, a doctor of the law, a man who confidently called himself an apostle of God in Christ Jesus, a man who walked in the demonstration of the power of God, a man who is simply an embodiment of a great walk with God. Yeah, I am talking of Paul. I don’t know about you but early in my Christian walk I wouldn’t imagine that such man would be so pressed down by life’s pressure that he would despair of life let alone think he’s been sentenced to death.
As great and inspirational as Paul was, we see the human side of him. We get to realise that he had highs and lows, he did get discouraged. I want to suggest something and do so plainly; no matter how spiritual or anointed you are, there are times when you feel real human. Moses asked God to kill him if he was not going to help him with the burden of wailing Israelites, the Psalmists once in a while did get so fed up with their enemies that they wanted to see them destroyed. Life does get hot sometimes and when it does, the human side of us tends to have an upper hand. The paradox of the Christian life is the tendency of having experiences that do not tally with expectations. I mean when you were preached to before receiving Christ, you were told that when you come to God everything will be alright but you get in there and find that its not quite the case. In fact, it just seems to get a bit harder. Like one man of God put it, “Someone just told you its gona be ok, they just did not tell you when”.
In any case, my interest is not the fact that life does throw things at us once in a while. My issue is the fact that regardless of what life has thrown and continues to throw at us, we remain standing. Regardless of the fact that Paul faced got so despaired at life that he thought he had a death sentence, he did not only remain standing but he could still put pen to paper and offer amazing words of encouragement. Despite even the attack from the so called saints, Paul still soldiered on. I mean it’s bad enough being attacked from outside the household of faith but if it comes from within, it becomes something else. If you’re told how rubbish you are in preaching by the people you encourage and pray for so earnestly, it’s just so hard to take. I mean, I don’t know it could have been that Paul wasn’t such a good orator (not many good orators get people dozing off to a point of falling and breaking their necks). But hey, we can testify to the power and revelation that broke loose when that guy put pen to paper. The issue of being a “rubbish” preacher would probably have gotten to him and hurt him as evident from his talking about it. Just like Paul, many of us have had life blows to endure and deal with and we still remain standing. So the million dollar question is how do we do that? Why is it that after going through all we’ve gone through, we’re still going strong? What is it about you that after receiving that life blow, you’ve just dusted yourself off and you’re ready to give life another shot?
I believe that the answer lies in the 7th verse in the fourth chapter of 2 Corinthians when Paul beautifully declares, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of power maybe of God and not of man”. Ladies and gentlemen, there is something in the inside of you that God deposits when you receive him into your life that just turns you into more than a mere human being. No wonder the psalmist declared, “what is man that you’re so mindful of…you’ve made him a little lower than angels”(paraphrased). My encouragement today is very simple, do not let the enemy intimidate you into thinking you’re not gona make it out of whatever life has thrown at you. I don’t really care whether, it’s the devil, your poor decisions or whatever that has landed you into whatever issues you’re dealing with. All I know is that you can not only deal with it but remain standing strong when the dust settles because wired within your Christ given identity is the ability to make it. There is a treasure in that vessel of dirt that makes you extra-ordinary!