It’s easy to assume that problems in biblical days looked totally different from those facing us today. So you might wonder what a first-century missionary can teach us about triumphing over adversity.
Though Paul’s culture was quite different from ours, some things remain the same—like temptation, hardship, persecution, and sin. Satan never changes either. Therefore, when the apostle wrote of being burdened beyond his strength, he had experience to back up his words.
Paul “despaired of life,” but he trusted in a God who raises the dead. In other words, he believed the Lord would sustain him during that season of conflict. How could he be certain? Paul learned to trust the Lord during affliction in the same way that we do: he was thrown into high-pressure situations with impossible odds and yet saw God triumph. We understand divine power when we reach the limits of our own strength and feel God’s supernatural energy kick in.
Divine strength is more than adequate to overcome worldly hardships, satanic temptations, and consequences of sin. That isn’t to say believers can avoid all sorrow and pain. Rather, we have the promise that God will meet our needs in every heartache and trial (Phil. 4:19). Our faith grows stronger when we trust Him in times of affliction.
God’s strength is available to all believers who confess their weakness and inadequacy. Sometimes a troubled soul has only enough stamina left to admit, “Father, I absolutely cannot. If You don’t, it is simply not going to happen.” In effect, we throw ourselves upon God and wait for Him to keep His promise.