The Upside Of Down Times

If you are facing tough times, you need to spend a minute with Paul.

Paul learned one of the great paradoxes of the Christian life: There is an upside to down times!

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. (2 Corinthians 1:8-11 ESV)

What exactly happened to Paul in the province of Asia? Was there an attempt on his life? Did he suffer some punishing malady? No one knows for sure (though we get an idea of what may have been the issue in Acts 19:23-41). What we do know is that there was an upside to his down time. It made him rely on God.

“But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”

Today I am on the mend from oral surgery I had yesterday. I have been avoiding this procedure for over 20 years -- and that is not an exaggeration! I suspect I am not alone in trying to dodge the unpleasant circumstances of life. What I learn from Paul, however, is that God uses these difficulties to persuade me not to rely on myself.

Why? Because when I come to the end of my rope, I find God's power. It is a power strong enough to raise the dead. And that is a power that is strong enough to solve any problem I am facing.

There is an upside to your down time. You get to experience the power of God! Rely on him!