Reliance on God in Affliction
2nd Corinthians 1:8-10
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.
This passage has given me so much hope the last few months. I have also returned to this passage with several counselees. Paul was speaking to the church in Corinth about his past suffering which was extensive. He suffered physically with his external circumstances, and in this passage it seems to point that he also suffered internally by mental/emotional anguish.
Over the years, I have had many clients discuss wanting to die or just not wake up. Some of these statements were due to their situations being dire from going through a nasty divorce to constantly battling with depression or meditating on past sexual abuse. Many of the clients reported great suffering and just desired to stop fighting and to be finished.
I would often refer to this passage and help them remember the story of Paul, our great brother in the faith. Many took comfort that this hero could sympathize with despair. To me what stands out the most in this passage is the reason why they were suffering. They were to rely on the God of the resurrection and not on themselves.
I often ask myself what does self reliance look like? What is the result when I rely on myself? How does this glorify God? What tends to happen? Then I ask what does reliance on God look like? What does that imply? How would I respond differently? How does this glorify Him? Just recently, the Lord brought this passage to my mind as I was trying to go to sleep. I felt him reminding me that reliance on him was looking at who he was over my circumstances. The fact that this scripture points to not only the resurrected power that he has, but also the resurrected power that lives inside of me. The Lord kept telling me that he brings life from death, and that HE is the master carpenter – one who constantly is making new things from old things. So, he wanted me to keep this perspective in mind when I was ruminating on my situation. One of the Puritans stated for every one look at your sin takes ten looks to Christ. I think this statement applies even more so to affliction. Often we start to think about what is happening to us and then start to get depressed over the lack of control we have. We start to spiral inward and imagine the worst possible scenarios increasing our despair and helplessness.
This passage reminds us that while in despair we HAVE to bring to mind not only WHO CHRIST IS but WHAT HE HAS DONE and WILL DO. This passage reminds us that He is the God who saved us and justified us from our sin. Remembering your past and what he saved you from and what He did on the cross for you that brought you into right standing with him. He also is the God who will deliver us from the presence of sin to our glorified state to be eternally present with him. One day, there will be no more tears, no more suffering. The bible says he will wipe every tear from our eyes. To me that close touch reminds me of his presence and sympathy in our pain. That He is the God who sees all and can empathize with us more than any other.
We are to hope that he will deliver us again in this situation. He wants us to continue to fix our eyes, minds, and hearts on him in the process. That he would give us peace and calm amidst the storm. That through our suffering he is sanctifying us to look more and more like his son. Through our suffering he is giving us more of himself. Through our suffering, He is reminding us that He is the Almighty deliverer who delivered Israel out of Egypt into the promise land. He delivered us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. I am constantly reminded how fleeting this life is. Our afflictions are momentary in light of eternity. I know that my Lord will deliver me into the promise land with Him. It is not always in my timing, but I set my Hope in the God above who can not lie that not only is He redeeming me while in this affliction, but He will rescue me from this present darkness. Because I have a Father who delights in my deliverance. To Him be the Glory.
Posted on February 27, 2013