Summary: Paul knew what placing everything in God’s hands had done for Him. He wanted others to place everything, their very existence & its priorities & activities in God’s hands also. God proves Himself totally trustworthy to those who place their life in His Ha
2 CORINTHIANS 1: 8-11 [GAINING PERSPECTIVE Series]
HOPE IN GOD
The hope in God which sustained Paul in his relationship with the Corinthians had to first grow and mature in his own life. Paul had an experience in Asia during a missionary Journey that had caused him to hope only in God. This danger that threatened to take his very life had brought him to the end of himself. He could not rely on himself for he could do nothing to help himself but he had to rely totally on God.
Paul knew what placing everything in God’s hands had done for Him. He wanted the Corinthians to place everything, their very existence and all its priorities and activities in God’s hands also. God proves Himself totally trustworthy to those who place their life totally in His Hands (CIM). We need to learn that it is in realizing a powerlessness within ourselves that we find dependency upon the All-Powerful God working as only He can work in us and in our circumstances.
I. DESPAIR OF LIFE; 1:8.
II. FOCUSED TRUST; 1:9.
III. FOCUSED HOPE; 1:10.
IV. PRAYER HELP; 1:11.
In verse 8 Paul describes a decimating hardship in which he received God’s comfort and empowering. “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life;
Paul now lays down the theology of afflictions and cites a specific illustration in his own recent experience [an up-to-date report on what God was doing in his life]. Evidently the Corinthian Christians were aware of what event Paul is describing (we are not) but were not aware of the intensity of the trouble or the affliction [thlipsis]. Paul thus tells them not what it was but how it had oppressed him beyond endurance.
Paul and his traveling companions had a trial so severe that they were weighted down beyond our power. Paul was being oppressed and hemmed in by affliction of such magnitude that apart from divine intervention he could not hope to survive it. So that we despaired even of life, literally is “we had no way out of life even to live.” [Exaporth from a- no & poros - passage, meaning no out-exit passage.] They believed they would not survive this affliction.
When I was a kid, we jokingly quoted SHAKESPEARE's famous line: “To be or not to be-that is the question.” But we really didn't understand what it meant. Later I learned that Shake-speare's character Hamlet, who spoke these lines, was a depressed prince who learns that his uncle has killed his father and married his mother. The horror of this realization is so disturb¬ing that he contemplates suicide. The question for him was: "to be" -to go on living, or "not to be" -to take his own life.
At times, life's pain can become so overwhelming that we are tempted to despair. Have you ever had a trial too great for you to bear? You’re in good company. God has allowed many of His choicest servants to go through the furnace of affliction. [Paul said that his persecution in Asia was so intense he “despaired even of life.”]
II. FOCUSED TRUST (9).
There are only three possible outlooks a person can take when they come to the afflicting trials of life. If our trials are the products of “fate” or “chance,” then we may as well give up for they are unalterable. Nobody can control fate or chance. If we have to control everything ourselves, then the situation is equally as hopeless, since there are things we can’t control. But if God is in control, and we trust Him, then we can overcome circumstances through His help.
God encourages us in all our tribulations by teaching us from His Word that it is He who permits trials to come. In verse 9 we learn that God sometimes allows trials so that we might not rely on ourselves but on Him. “Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead;”
Paul was conscious within himself that he was a man upon whom humanly speaking the sentence of death had been passed but God was still on His throne and God knew exactly how much burden Paul could take and how much affliction he needed to bring about the growth outcome desired. This dreadful trial was allowed Paul in order to provide a precious spiritual lesson (12:7-10). The great lesson of this overwhelming affliction which had befallen him was that he (and all who are Christ’s) should not trust in self, but in God who raises the dead.
Paul believed they would die forcing him to admit that he could not handle the situation and must cast himself completely on God’s power to raise his life up out of death. Then the great blessing of the trail came as he transferred all his trust for this life to God [believing that even though he would die God would raise them from the dead (Acts 14:19)]. Abraham was forced to this same place when he offered up Isaac on the Altar of Sacrifice. They, and so many others, have cast all their hope for life on the God who “raises the dead.” The same God who could raise Christ from the dead could resurrect him (Paul) out of his “sentence of death.”