Paul knew what it was like to be discouraged. He writes, “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. Indeed, 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. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us.” 1 Corinthians 1: 8, 9 Every time I read this passage I can’t help but wonder how is it possible that the greatest evangelist of all time could feel such despair. It was not an easy time to be a Christian but I thought discouragement was only for us mortals not spiritual giants. The truth is Paul was subject to the same pressures, fears and turmoil that we all face. He just had the extra pressure of having the state and the religious establishment wanting to kill him.
Each of us is on a spiritual journey. Our life experiences move us along the path and we can either learn from them or repeat them over and over. Paul learned to trust God throughout his trials and tribulations. He realized that of himself he was not strong enough to defeat the emotions that left him weak and fearful. Instead of drowning in discouragement he drew closer to God and trusted in Him to be his deliverer.
Paul drew his strength from his past experiences with God. On one of the past posts we talked about how healthy it is to dwell on good memories. We take courage and strength from thinking about past successes and joyous occasions. Paul knew what God did for him in the past. God had pulled him out of the fire more than once and Paul could rely on the reality that God was with him and would continue to watch over him. But Paul had another source of strength, ” On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favour granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” 1 Corinthinas 1: 10b, 11 Paul was able to weather the storm of discouragement and fear because he had friends who were praying for his success. I know there are skeptics that think prayer is only wishful thinking and doesn’t change a thing, but they are wrong. Prayer is a powerful tool in the life of any person who is seeking a fuller spiritual life. The church at Corinth may have had problems but they were faithful in their prayers on Paul’s behalf.
Do you have a friend who’s going through a rough spot? Why not take some time and pray for him/her and ask God to give a special measure of courage and strength. And don’t be shy about asking a friend to pray for you, or with you. If you prefer, send me your request at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be glad to pray for you. I know that I’ve received benefit from the prayers of others.
This blog is about community and supporting each other. If you have a prayer request that you feel comfortable sharing, feel free to leave it in the comments and I’m sure the readers will be glad to include your request in their prayers.
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