2 Cor 1:8 "We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself". So what did Paul endure that was so stressful? Lets look at Acts 18-19 for the answers.
Paul was under conviction - a deep personal responsibility to bring the gospel to his fellow Jews.
In Acts 18, While in Corinth Paul had had enough with the Jewish rulers which led him to draw a line, it was clear it was time to move on...
Acts 18 verse6 "But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles." I would make an educated guess that as a Watchman of Israel he took his responsibility seriously. See Ezek 33:1-20 "6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood."
God encourages Paul to keep going.
Acts 18: 9One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city." 11So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
After the time of a crises which was made up of endurance with his enemies, he makes a God honoring determination for the way forward and then God speaks comfort and encouragement.
His crises continues to Asia, but with it he now has the comfort of the Word of God.
Acts 19:8Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 9But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.
The sons of Sceva get a beating and the area holds Jesus in high esteem.
13Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." 14Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15(One day) the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" 16Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
Then there were riots in Ephesus. Uproar and mayhem prevailed but Paul held onto the God of all Comfort.
I have a friend who is seeing life as far beyond her ability to endure. I was looking for a word for her today. This scripture has helped me speak to her.
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