I have a bad habit when in difficulty of giving myself permission to behave badly. Paul underwent far greater difficulties. His account of ship wrecks, beatings, facing wild animals and the like make anything I face seem trivial.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. [2 Corinthians 4:8-9NIV]
Yet Paul, instead of using them to excuse bad behaviour saw them as an opportunity to discover the amazing extent of God’s grace.
we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. [2 Corinthians 4:7NIV]
Paul recognises he is not up to the trials, but he does not give up and make everyone else suffer. He prays and looks forward to how God will carry him through.
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, [2 Corinthians 4:10NIV]
Paul understood these trials as a participation in the death of Christ. As we are joined with Jesus in his suffering, we are also joined with him in God’s power.
so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
Jesus does not give immunity from trials but hope in himself. Can we seek him and faithfully endure as we wait for him to intervene? At the far end, looking back, we will realise that we were not up to it, but that he brought us through.