Despair Hurts

Hope for the Hurting by Tony Evans

The apostle Paul took his commitment to telling the truth seriously. That’s why we read in his own words a pretty stark summation of his life, showing how God has cared for him amidst a mass of suffering, as found in 2 Corinthians 1.

In contemporary language, that would be classified as severe depression. There’s no way to sugar-coat someone writing that they “despaired even of life.” And yet, what I find interesting in all of this is that Paul is also probably the most mature Christian who has ever lived. He stands head and shoulders above most others when it comes to boldly declaring the faith, representing Jesus and suffering for His cause.

I want to remind all of us whose hearts may hurt that we are not talking about a bad man in pain when we reference Paul and learn from him. We are looking at a good man hurting—a godly man hurting. He’s a man hurting even as a result of the things he was doing to advance God’s kingdom in the world!

See, a lot of believers think that if they follow Jesus, serve Him and love Him, they are not supposed to hurt.

This world comes with trouble. It just does. The sooner we can accept that reality and stop ourselves from trying to spiritualize every painful situation, loss or difficulty we encounter, we will be better positioned to weather it well.

People get sick on this planet. People die. People get abused. Go hungry. Lose relationships. Accidents happen. Careers go south. Loneliness lingers. As I referenced earlier, Jesus reminded us that this world comes with troubles and tribulations (John 16:33). But the difference for kingdom followers comes in knowing that because of Jesus in us, we can overcome the onslaught of hurtful scenarios we face.

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

Rom. 5:2‭-‬4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

2 Cor. 1:3‭-‬7

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

2 Cor. 1:8‭-‬11

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