Read 2 Corinthians 1:9-11
9-11 We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part. (THE MESSAGE)
When some people communicate with us, they often give us a very rosy view of their life situation. Life seems one success after another. Those on Christian service overseas can sometimes give the impression that there are no bumps on the road. Those who send catch-up newsletters can cause us to think that they are travelling so much better than we are.
It is not usually true. Such public communications quite rightly might draw a veil over some of life’s difficulties. We don’t want to parade our problems to all and sundry. And we don’t want to violate our family member’s privacy by telling the world about their very personal struggles.
And yet there is a time and place for robust sharing. Paul gives an example here. He does not hold back as he writes to the Corinthians. This is no triumphalist missionary newsletter. And as we read this text, we can be comforted by the realisation that even the great ones had their dark moments, and that setbacks are part of the Christian journey.
But we are also encouraged because while Paul delivers some pretty sobering news, he also focusses on the deliverance provided by God. So it may be, at the right time and place, to share our own troubles. Not so people feel sorry for us, but so people can see that in real-life situations God is at hand.
We don’t need people telling us life is just wonderful all the time. We know that is not true. We rather need people telling us that life can be difficult, but help is at hand.