2 Corinthians 1:8-9 -I think you ought to know, dear brothers, about the hard time we went through in Asia. We were really crushed and overwhelmed and feared we would never live through it. TLB
Paul is an interesting person to me. I think of him as the superhero of the gospel. Writing most of the New Testament, establishing churches, traveling continuously to spread the gospel, walking in miracles, and seeming to have an unstoppable attitude, his example is hard to follow. And yet, many Christians struggle in life, thinking that they have to portray a superhero face to onlookers to be the perfect Christian.
In this verse, we see a side of Paul that we don’t see very often. A side that makes it possible to think he was more human than our minds tend to believe. Paul starts this conversation by saying,
I think you ought to know, dear brothers, about the hard time we went through in Asia.2 Corinthians 2:1 TLB
Some preachers spend too much time dwelling on the challenges of being a Christian. The “woe is me” attitude touches the emotions of far too many believers. However, some preachers believe Christians should never struggle, especially for any length. Can I tell you today that until someone has heard your story, they can’t tell you how you should feel?
Paul told the Corinthians that he felt they should know how hard things were for him and his group as they went through Asia. As a matter of fact, Paul said that things got so bad that they thought they wouldn’t live through them. Let’s read those words again:
We were really crushed and overwhelmed and feared we would never live through it.2 Corinthians 2:9 TLB
I read these words, and I think that if Paul could feel overwhelmed, if Paul could feel like the situation he was in was so intense that he felt like he wouldn’t make it through it, then certainly we can admit when we have these same feelings of life being too much!
Now grant it, keeping things in perspective, Paul wasn’t feeling overwhelmed because of his bad decisions, but because of the attacks against him for the gospel’s sake. But nevertheless, he felt overwhelmed by his situation.
We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves2 Corinthians 1:9a TLB
I can’t speak for you, but I know that there are things that happen in life that cause a person to feel under such intense pressure that they feel like they are going to die. Or they feel like the thing they are going through, they are powerless to get themselves out of it or through it. Simply overwhelmed with the pressures of life.
I remember at the height of the pandemic, when people were dying faster than we have ever seen before around the world, how helpless we all felt. We didn’t know what was going on or how to stop it! Powerless! Wondering when it would all end.
I think about the businesses that closed their doors forever and the people who lost their jobs, homes, and sense of security, realizing how overwhelmed they had to have felt.
I think of families with young children at home, trying to navigate jobs, childcare, schooling, and home life, with no end in sight. It can be overwhelming. But we made it through the tough times of the pandemic, mostly intact.
But outside of the pandemic are other issues in life. The families in Uvalde who woke up to a regular school day have it interrupted by a school massacre in their town, their school. Parents, siblings, spouses, friends, and family members are taken off guard by the senseless violence and the unexpected, violent loss of their loved ones.
Just a few days ago, as Americans began celebrating the Fourth of July by attending parades and family gatherings, we were interrupted again by the shocking news of another public shooting. Over and over again, these things keep happening, and there is a sense of feeling overwhelmed by all of it. A sense that it is just too much! But the most challenging part of all of it is we feel powerless to stop it!
Paul didn’t stop there with the difficulties that he was facing. He didn’t leave the Corinthians with a sense of doomsday being on the horizon. He didn’t feel it was time to throw in the towel because the gospel message asked for a price that no one should have to pay. No! Paul had some good news to add to all of the terrible things that had happened:
We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us, for he can even raise the dead.2 Corinthians 9:1 TLB
Paul told the Corinthians that even though they were in a place where they felt they might die and had no solutions to help themselves, they were in a good place!
How could Paul say things were good when they were so bad? There was absolutely no good thing going on in the natural to even remotely find good! But Paul said it was good. Why?
Paul said that it was in this difficult place, where he felt things were so bad that he could die because he was powerless to help himself, that they placed it all in the hands of God! Read it again if you need to:
We felt we were doomed to die and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves; but that was good, for then we put everything into the hands of God, who alone could save us, for he can even raise the dead.1 Corinthians 1:9 TLB
Paul told the Corinthians that while they were powerless, they turned things over to the God with all power. As a matter of fact, Paul acknowledged that only God could save them and get them out of the situation that they were in. Only God could take this situation that wanted to crush them to death and bring deliverance. Paul also said that God even raised the dead! So he took great comfort in that truth.
And he did help us and saved us from a terrible death; yes, and we expect him to do it again and again.1 Corinthians 1:10 TLB
Then Paul lets them know that God did help them. God saved them from a terrible death, and his expectation in God was that He would do it again and again. Paul’s confidence in God is showing! He said that not only did God help them, but he expected God to do it again and again.
Then Paul says something truly remarkable:
But you must help us too by praying for us. For much thanks and praise will go to God from you who see his wonderful answers to your prayers for our safety!1 Corinthians 1:11 TLB
Paul tells the Corinthians that they can help him and those who were spreading the gospel by their prayers. He said that they would get to rejoice in the miraculous provisions of deliverance that he experienced if they would pray!
This is the whole point of my blog today. We can’t stop everything from happening, but if we pray for others, we can be a part of God’s plan to deliver them. It is important that as we continue to see things happening, we don’t fold our hands over our eyes and say the sky is falling. No! It’s time to pray! Because Paul tells us through the Word of God that our prayers change things!
And for those experiencing such heart-wrenching things in your life today, don’t give up on God and wallow in despair. It’s time to turn things over to God! Then call someone and tell them what is going on so they can pray for you. Let others help you! Because if you do, they will later rejoice with you over God’s great victory in your life! Wonderful Jesus!