Summary: Pressure, Hope, Deliverance, Prayers
The Comfort Zone…Where We Are Really Uncomfortable
It Takes Pressure to Make a Diamond
2 Corinthians 1:8-11 (p. 803) September 18, 2016
When the Apostle Paul uses the words “We were under great pressure” it gets our attention…because he was stoned and left for dead, beaten with rods three times, whipped with the lash (39 times)…5 times, attacked by angry mobs…ship wrecked 3 times and spent a day and night dodging sharks in the open sea, He had been snake bit, criticized by unbelievers and believers, he’d been arrested and spent 2 years in jail without a trial…He called these things “light and momentary afflictions.”
Here’s the most extraordinary thing about what Paul writes about in 2 Corinthians Chapter One…we have no idea at all about what this terrible experience is…we know it happened in Ephesus but he doesn’t go into any detail…anywhere.
He first believed it was so bad there was no way out…It was far beyond his ability to bear.
You know that statement “God will never let anything happen to you beyond your ability to bear?” Well that is not the truth…The truth is He will not let anything happen to you or me that is beyond His ability to bear.
Paul goes into specifics elsewhere concerning his troubles and hurts…but not here…Why? We might never know for sure…but we do know one thing for sure about it.
I. HIS FOCUS IS ON THE POWER OF GOD NOT THE HORRIBLE CIRCUMSTANCE
William Barclay writes in his commentary “There is a very human tendency to make the most of anything we have to go through.”
It’s the art of one upmanship…“Oh, you think you’ve had it bad? Let me tell you about what I’ve been through!”
Remember the movie Jaws back in the 70’s? One of my favorite scenes it when Brody and Quinn compare scars
SHOW VIDEO (3 minutes)
Notice that Quinn doesn’t volunteer the US Indianapolis scar…Where his friends died…Where it appeared all was lost…He wasn’t going to use the most painful memory he’s ever had in this one upmanship game.
I think Paul’s experience in the province of Asia falls into this category.
You don’t write about this in a letter…You don’t put this in a list of bad things…You try to remove the tattoo…You try to make the memory go away.
My dad never talked about his worst experiences during the war…neither does my son Tyler…There are experiences in my lifeI won’t either…I might share them with my wife and closest friends…but even then it’s because they’ve asked…“What’s that scar from?”
For many, this is the fulcrum where faith tips towards God…or away from Him. Is God big enough for this memory…Is He powerful enough for this pain? Will I rely on my own resources or will I trust His?
[Ernest Hemingway made a 10 dollar bet with a bunch of authors after they’d had lunch…The guys bet him 10 dollars he couldn’t come up with a short story that was only 6 words long. Hemingway took the bet, pulled out a napkin and wrote a 6 word story: