“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, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.” — 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 (NIV84)
I don’t know whether I want to laugh or cry when I hear a Christian say that a Christian with real faith in God should never experience despair or depression. They somehow characterize despair and depression with the absence or weakness of faith. When faced with Christians who think that way, I love to bring up the verses of our text. The Apostle Paul himself admits to facing a sadness so deep that he despaired of life itself. What happened? Did Paul face a time of weakened faith? I don’t think so! Paul was admitting that sometimes this life can get so wicked, evil and challenging that even the best of Christians can face despair.
If you are a Christian who has faced those dark days, or may be facing them, please know that it may not be because your faith is wavering. It may be that your faith is exactly what God is wanting to identify. Paul says, “But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.” Our faith is what relies on God. Our reason is what relies on ourselves. So, it makes sense that if Satan would want to misdirect us during tough times, he would get us to doubt the one thing we need — our faith — and cause us to turn to our own reason. In tough times, God desires just the opposite. He wants us to rely on our faith, even if it is challenged, because it is the only thing that relies 100% on God.
May we all, on our darkest days, turn our faith toward God and rely on Him alone who can change our situation. Paul ends our verses for today by saying, “God delivered us from such a deadly peril … On Him we set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.” May we each rely on the one who alone can deliver us.