If you work for a living you are no stranger to stress. Performance demands, conflicts, deadlines, fatigue, and work/life balance are common stress triggers that are a part of almost every job.
In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 Paul is speaking to Christians when he describes the extreme stress he and his companions endured on one of their mission trips, and then Paul tells us why God lets this level of stress come into our lives.
The passage reads:
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.
Paul does not want us to be uninformed about the types of pressures we can experience; i.e., “the hardships we suffered … under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure … despaired … felt the sentence of death.” What Paul describes here is extreme by any measure. His trials went far beyond what most of us will ever face in our careers.
Second Corinthians 1:8-9 makes it clear that God allows Christians, even “good” Christians like Paul, to experience extreme stress. This fact is our reality today, and always will be so long as we live on this side of heaven.
Christians are not immune to hardship. But, how we deal with our hardship sets us apart from the rest of the world.
At the end of the 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 passage, Paul tells us “this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.” From time to time there will be stressful situations we cannot handle on our own. At these times—and this is Paul’s key point—we are to “not rely on ourselves but on God.”
Christianity is not a stress-free life, but it is the best life. Paul never gave up in the face of life’s difficulties and you shouldn’t, either.
Psalm 46:1-2 declares:
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.
With God’s help you can handle any stressful situation the world sends your way.