Burdened Beyond Measure

By Royce Frederick

Do you feel a deep despair sometimes? You are not alone. The apostle Paul was “...burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life” (2 Cor. 1:8). Problems with health, money, family, work... — sometimes everything seems to conspire against us to destroy us. While we are in this human body, “in this we groan” (5:2). But in 2 Corinthians, God shows us some of the many ways He helps us.

God helps us through our spiritual family. It is very important that we faithfully assemble with God’s people and stay connected with them, because He helps us through them (see Heb. 10:23-25; 13:17; 1 Thess. 5:14-15; Gal. 6:1-2). When God helps one of His children, He enables that one to help others. He “...comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble” (2 Cor. 1:4). When one Christian sins, then repents, a loving spiritual family is eager to “forgive and comfort him” (2:7). Paul himself was comforted by the love of the Corinthians (7:6-7).

God helps us by giving us hope. Our trouble on earth is “light” and “for a moment” compared to the fantastic joy of heaven, which is “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (4:17)! We must ...not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (4:18). The burdens of this life are like one drop of water, compared to the oceans of blessings in heaven! “For...if our earthly house, this tent [our human body], is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (5:1)! The faithful will have a perfect body forever in a perfect place!

God helps us by bringing good things out of problems. For the faithful, our trouble “is working for us” (4:17). Paul grew stronger in the midst of severe troubles. “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (4:8-9). He had despaired, but he overcame it through faith in God. Jesus told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (12:9). So Paul wrote, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (12:10). When we suffer, Jesus shines through — if He is inside us. Suffering refines our character and makes us better instruments to help others and glorify God. When the night is darkest, the candle is brightest!

2 Corinthians was written by a troubled person to troubled people. Because of that, it helps us endure our troubles, and grow from them.