Hard times are bound to happen in life; yours might not mean mortal peril like Paul’s but all of us will experience dejection, hopelessness and isolation at some point. Adversity is so central to life that it’s even a focal point of traditional marital vows: “for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health.” We all hope the good will always outweigh the bad but life almost guarantees us a few rough patches and, if you’re a follower of Jesus, the Bible promises they will indeed happen.
Paul writes this letter a young and mostly newly-converted church in Corinth and does not shy away from the fact that his life was almost lost while in the field of ministry. In fact, he’s very intentional of letting them know the hardships he had had to endure all in the name of Jesus. Instead of complaining though, Paul says this: it’s actually sort of good. He says in that passage that his very imminent demise had actually built up his trust in the Lord and given him the ability to comfort the Corinthians. By enduring these hardships and sharing them with the church, Paul demonstrates a relationship of sharing burdens and comforts; of riding the high’s and low’s together.
All too often the temptation is to run from our struggles and worries or to hide them from our friends and family. Sometimes the temptation is to get stuck in a loop of constant complaining and defeat. What’s really great, though, about part of being a community of believers is that we get the opportunity to move past those points in the things we strive in. We have an opportunity to share what weighs on our hearts so others can comfort us. We have the opportunity to stand in the corner of those who’ve been in the rough places we’ve also been in the past. And we have a God we can trust in no matter how tough it gets because He knows our best interests better than we do.
To really take advantage of those opportunities, practicing vulnerability could be that first step. Once you open about yourself you will often find it invites others the share their lives as well. It also strengthens and enables you to really embrace the hard things, finding the the teaching opportunity they have but also the knowledge that God wants to lead you into so much more.
If you don’t know if you have people you can trust and confide in, I sincerely hope and pray that either you find them or they find you. Life is hard enough and you deserve better than going it alone. The opportunity is closer than you think.
Author | Justin Patton