When It’s More Than You Think You Can Bear

When It’s More Than You Think You Can Bear

What was it? Was it a health scare or diagnosis or uncertainty that grabbed you and wouldn’t turn your mind loose? Was it the sudden death of someone dear to you? Was it the dissolving of your marriage? Was it the unexpected revelation from a family member or friend that stunned your senses? You’ve been there. What was it that got you staggering a bit emotionally, mentally and even spiritually? How did you handle it? How did you get through it?

In the book of Second Corinthians, Paul revealed some “trouble” that he had faced (1:8). The word for “trouble” primarily means “a pressing, pressure,” with reference to sufferings due to the pressure of outward circumstances or the antagonism of persons. Does that description sound familiar to your life experience? Notice how Paul portrays this event.

“We were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves” (1:8-9). Think about each expression in this statement. The word “burdens” means “to be heavy upon, press down with a weight,” and Paul said this one was “excessively” (NASB) “beyond” the “measure” that he could handle, and it was “beyond our strength” (ESV) of what could normally be endured. But, he was going to be alright, wasn’t he? Brush it off and keep going, right? Note how he shares that “we despaired even of life.” The Greek for “despaired” literally means “to be utterly without a way.” Truly, “we had the sentence of death in ourselves.”

As you read Paul’s description of where he was, could you relate? Have you been there? “Paul, how did you get through that?” Note two things that he pinpoints. First, Paul reveals that this point of despair “was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (1:9, ESV). If we think we can get through things on our own, we’re deceived and just arrogantly wrong. We must learn to trust God, period! Seeing that He had power to raise the dead, what is there He cannot do or handle in our lives? Look in the past—has He delivered you before? Yes! And “He will still deliver us” (1:10).

Second, Paul reveals that what was there “helping” him get through it were the “prayers” of his brethren on his behalf, as they were “joining in helping” (NASB) or “helping together” (NKJV) “in prayer.” When you have an excessive life burden that is beyond your strength to handle, ask your brethren to pick up the other side of it…with their prayers. Life burdens are not meant to bear them alone. First, trust the Lord to not just carry your burden, but to carry you! Second, seek and let fellow Christians bear it for you in prayer!


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