“Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:28)
Paul exhorted the Philippian church to “be careful for nothing …” (Philippians 4:6) But was Paul without care? He told the Corinthians that he was weighed down daily with the care he had for all the churches. To understand this seeming contradiction we must understand how Paul dealt with the realities of life. He certainly was not one to deny or run from the hard realities that surrounded him. To a Corinthian church which boasted of their strength, he gloried in his weakness. Outwardly, Paul appeared to have the courage of a lion, but he allowed them to see what was going on inside him as he faced each challenge: “And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.” (1 Cor. 2:3) He did not claim to be a “superman.” The troubles he encountered affected him the way any of us would be affected. “For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.” (2 Cor. 7:5)
The difference in Paul’s life and that of others was not a difference in the experience of trouble or its affect; the difference was how deeply Paul relied on Christ to comfort and empower him when he was at his weakest moments. “… Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor. 12:9) The man who once did everything in his power to flee the call of Christ upon his life became the man who fled to Jesus on a daily basis.
Life can overwhelm us. People and their problems can be too much for us to bear. Left to face life on our own, we just want to run away. But problems are not a bad thing to have if they drive us to our knees. There, in the presence of our Savior, who faced every hard thing we will ever face, we can “obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16) Like Paul, we can gain the strength to courageously and successfully face our life as it is.