The Gift Of Despair- 2 Corinthians 1:8-9

As we continue in our study of Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth, we find Paul sharing more detail about the “sufferings” to which he had previously referred and been comforted in the midst of. Verse 8 reads as follows in the NIV: “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”. While we are not given specifics as to exactly what these sufferings were, we are told here that they placed Paul under “great pressure” . The Greek translated “great pressure” here may be more literally translated as “a great burden weighed down upon us”. This “burden” was “beyond our ability to endure”. While we are not informed as to precisely what this burden consisted of, we are told what having to bear it produced in Paul’s life, it produced “despair”. The Greek word translated despair here is exaporeo, which is a compound word, which simply means it is two words combined into one. Here, exaporeo is a combination of the preposition ek- “out of” and the verb poreo- “to go through” or “a way through”. This term is usually translated into English as perplexed or despairing, because one who is perplexed and in despair is one who can’t see a way through or out of whatever difficulty he or she is faced with. The picture here is of someone who has been weighed down with a great burden and his been trying to rid himself of it, but it just will not go away, and no way can be seen through which it may be dispensed with. Paul shows here that he is perplexed by its presence and despairing of any hope of ever being rid of it. If this were the entire story, Paul would remain in this state of despair, but Paul then tells us, in verse 9, that this is not all there is to this story. The Holy Spirit has used this situation to teach Paul something, that his bearing of this burden, and its producing this “despair” in his life, was given to him “that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God”. Paul’s default setting was self-reliance, he had learned all of this life to rely upon himself, to trust in his own abilities and resources to be able to accomplish what needed to be accomplished and to overcome any obstacle in his way. He would normally be able to figure out a way to rid himself of this type of burden in his own strength and ability. But, he has now been carrying a burden which his normal way of handling was not working, a burden he could not rely upon himself to deal with, and this has brought him to the place of despair. It is at this point which the Spirit somehow makes Paul realize that the despair he was dealing with was actually a “gift”, a gift from God, sent specifically to Paul at this point in time to bring him to the end of his “self-reliance” and begin the process of teaching him to learn to rely upon God rather than self. The Christian life is, by definition, a life of faith, and to have faith in something means to trust in it, to rely upon it, and the “it” we trust in is Christ, and growing in our faith means learning to trust in Him rather than self. By relating this incident to us, Paul shows us that the burdens of life may not be quite so perplexing, for they may be given to us by God to bring us to the end of self-reliance and draw us more near to Christ.

No Comments Conformed to the Image of Christ  //  Growing In Grace

Leave a Reply

Pure Spiritual Milk

SEO Copy... Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse nunc turpis, cursus et interdum sed, lobortis vitae nunc. Integer placerat tellus odio, non sodales arcu fermentum id. Mauris vitae eleifend leo, et rhoncus odio. Ut et arcu eu ex tempus ultricies eu vel lorem. Curabitur eu consectetur neque. Suspendisse volutpat nibh urna, sit amet aliquet augue imperdiet in. Etiam eget felis pellentesque, dapibus dolor ut, sodales justo. Mauris eu arcu lectus. Suspendisse odio ex, dignissim sit amet ornare eget, elementum at odio.