What happens when we trust our own resources to solve the problem? We solve the problem but we don’t see God.
Money crisis? Whip out the credit card.
Car problem? Call AAA.
Problem solved but no glory to God there.
Trouble can cause us to trust ourselves or to trust God. And under the right circumstances, to trust Him totally. Now that is a good idea since He is the one who raised Jesus from the dead. And we can trust Him.
He will deliver us. He is faithful. He is God. This is the same God who raised Jesus from the dead. I repeat, we have the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead into an incorruptible body. That is astounding good news.
Some times when we think things are so bad it really isn’t. It is an opportunity to trust God.
That is what he wants us to do.
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. 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 (The Message)
God permits the trials to come. There are ten basic words for suffering in the Greek language, and Paul used five of them in this letter. The most frequently used word is thlipsis, which means “narrow, confined, under pressure,” and in this letter is translated affliction, tribulation, and trouble. Paul felt hemmed in by difficult circumstances, and the only way he could look was up.
In 2 Corinthians 1:5–6, Paul used the word pathema, “suffering,” which was also used for the sufferings of our Savior (1 Peter 1:11; 5:1). There are some sufferings that we endure simply because we are human and subject to pain There are other sufferings that come because we are God’s people and want to serve Him.
We must never think that trouble is an accident. For the believer, everything is a divine appointment. There are only three possible outlooks a person can take when it comes to the trials of life. If our trials are the products of “fate” or “chance,” then our only recourse is to give up. Nobody can control fate or chance. If we have to control everything ourselves, then the situation is equally as hopeless. But if God is in control, and we trust Him, then we can overcome circumstances with His help.
God encourages us in all our tribulations by teaching us from His Word that it is He who permits trials to come.
God is in control of trials. “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life” (NIV). Paul was weighed down like a beast of burden with a load too heavy to bear. But God knew just how much Paul could take and He kept the situation in control.
We do not know what the specific “trouble” was, but it was great enough to make Paul think he was going to die. Whether it was peril from his many enemies, serious illness, or special satanic attack, we do not know; but we do know that God controlled the circumstances and protected His servant. When God puts His children into the furnace, He keeps His hand on the thermostat and His eye on the thermometer. Paul may have despaired of life, but God did not despair of Paul.
God enables us to bear our trials. The first thing He must do is show us how weak we are in ourselves. Paul was a gifted and experienced servant of God, who had been through many different kinds of trials. Surely all of this experience would be sufficient for him to face these new difficulties and overcome them.
But God wants us to trust Him—not our gifts or abilities, our experience, or our “spiritual reserves.” Just about the time we feel self-confident and able to meet the enemy, we fail miserably. “For when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).
When you and I die to self, then God’s resurrection power can go to work. It was when Abraham and Sarah were as good as dead physically that God’s resurrection power enabled them to have the promised son. However, “dying to self” does not mean idle complacency, doing nothing and expecting God to do everything. You can be sure that Paul prayed, searched the Scriptures, consulted with his associates, and trusted God to work. The God who raises the dead is sufficient for any difficulty of life! He is able, but we must be available.
Paul did not deny the way he felt, nor does God want us to deny our emotions. “We were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears” (2 Cor. 7:5). The phrase “sentence of death” in 2 Corinthians 1:9 could refer to an official verdict, perhaps an order for Paul’s arrest and execution. Keep in mind that the unbelieving Jews hounded Paul’s trail and wanted to eliminate him. “Perils by my own countrymen” must not be overlooked in the list of dangers (2 Cor. 11:26).
God delivers us from our trials. Paul saw God’s hand of deliverance whether he looked back, around, or ahead. The word Paul used means “to help out of distress, to save and protect.” God does not always deliver us immediately, nor in the same way. James was beheaded, yet Peter was delivered from prison. Both were delivered, but in different ways. Sometimes God delivers us from our trials, and at other times He delivers us in our trials.
God’s deliverance was in response to Paul’s faith, as well as to the faith of praying people in Corinth. “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles” (Ps. 34:6).
God is glorified through our trials. When Paul reported what God had done for him, a great chorus of praise and thanksgiving went up from the saints to the throne of God. The highest service you and I can render on earth is to bring glory to God, and sometimes that service involves suffering. “The gift bestowed” refers to Paul’s deliverance from death, a wonderful gift indeed!
Paul was never ashamed to ask disciples to pray for him. In at least seven of his letters, he mentioned his great need for prayer support. Paul and the believers in Corinth were helping each other.
The word sunupourgeo translated “helping together” is used only here in the Greek New Testament and is composed of three words: with, under, work. It is a picture of laborers under the burden, working together to get the job accomplished. It is encouraging to know that the Holy Spirit also assists us in our praying and helps to carry the load (Rom. 8:26).
God works out His purposes in the trials of life, if we yield to Him, trust Him, and obey what He tells us to do. Difficulties can increase our faith and strengthen our prayer lives. Difficulties can draw us closer to other Christians as they share the burdens with us. Difficulties can be used to glorify God. So, when you find yourself in the trials of life, remember what God is to you and what God does for you.