Tuesday, November 13, 2018
2 Corinthians 1:8 – 9 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.
Several years ago, a very good friend of mine went through a terrible hardship in his family. His daughter was diagnosed with cancer at age 18. It was a roller coaster ride of emotions that lasted for several years. Numerous surgeries were performed, each one giving them hope that it would be the last, and then their hopes would be dashed by more complications. They literally felt the sentence of death in their hearts. They knew what it was to be at the end of their rope. They translated Paul’s phrase “we despaired even of life” into a two-word statement – “this sucks.” Please forgive the crudeness of how that sounds, but it’s true. Sometimes life hurts so bad that we can only look at it in despair. We are under such pressure that it is beyond our ability to endure, and certainly beyond our capacity to resolve.
But this family did not stay in that condition. They relied on the grace and comfort of God. They learned that in the experience of death, even if only in their minds, there is the experience of the resurrection power of God who raises the dead. The same God who raised Jesus from a death caused by the compounded effect of all mankind’s sin can raise us from the individual sentence of death we are experiencing.
Human logic dictates this truth. If it has been proven that a man can lift 250 pounds over his head, then it is entirely logical to assume that he can lift one pound over his head. Since God was able to raise Jesus from the dead, and the death of Jesus was caused by the total weight of all mankind’s sin, then it is logical to believe that God can easily raise one sinner from the dead.
That’s exactly what my friend’s family believed. Against all human logic and hopelessness, they trusted God to be their strength and courage to endure the hardship. Today they are the living examples of hardship-constructed character. The daughter is now married to a wonderful man of God who stood by her during all the years of her battle with cancer. My friend and his wife have learned what it means to trust God every day, and to use every hardship as an opportunity to rely on the God who raises the dead.
Their lives and attitudes are an illustration of today’s truth – hardship produces trust in God. Smooth sailing results in self-trust. Rough waters cause us to turn to the Master and let Him handle the storm.
Whatever you are going through right now, stop trying to control it. Stop trying to fix it. Stop trying to change it. Just look at it, and in whatever words are appropriate for you, tell God that you “despair even of life.” Then trust Him completely to handle the situation and bring about an outcome that honors His name. Then you will be able to say with Paul, “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.” (2 Cor. 1:10)