I led a short term youth missions team on a trip to China a few years back. While in-country, we took a short flight on one of the national airlines. This flight was like being on a roller coaster, except no one was having fun! Either the turbulence was out of control or the piloting was poor… but the non-stop drops turns and bumps had us envisioning every scary airplane movie you’ve ever seen! I’m sure some of the poor youth (on their second flight ever) were thinking, “oh my goodness, we’re going to die!!!” I have to admit, I’d never prayed so hard on a flight in my life. Fortunately, we survived. But, we all remember that flight, and likely won’t ever want to fly that particular airline again! Chalk it up to “experiences had while spreading the Gospel in other lands”. But, did you know, the Apostle Paul actually did expect to die in the midst of pressures and persecutions he and his friends were encountering while serving the Lord??
II Corinthians 1:8 We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9 In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. 11 And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.
Let’s face it, every day has challenges. But, seriously, how many of us actually have been so hard-pressed by persecution or the challenges of life that we actually expected to die as a result?
If we’re honest, there are times when the circumstances seem very challenging, and we wonder if/how we will ever get out of them. But, God is faithful, because we’re still here :). The Apostle Paul’s perspective here is stunning, and so instructive to us. Why did such hardship come to them?
“But, as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely on God, who raises the dead.” (I Corinthians 1:9
My goodness!! It is good to know that, even if we do die ahead of schedule, God can raise the dead. But, let me ask you this question: Do you need to be pushed to the edge of death by your circumstances before you will actually learn to STOP relying on yourself and learn to rely on God?!?
Perhaps the choice is in OUR court. How harsh will we allow circumstances to become before we stop trusting in our own ability and put our full trust in Him?
“He did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in Him, and He will continue to rescue us (v.10).”
I’m pretty sure none of us is facing mortal death for following Jesus, but who knows, that day could come. Today is our training ground for higher levels yet to come. Let’s be found completely faithful in whatever we are facing today, so that when the days of more intense testing come, we will stand, like the Apostle Paul, with this kind of trust and confidence in the Lord.
And, let’s not miss the next verse, “And you are helping us, by praying for us.”
We are never alone. The apostles were strengthened and carried along by the prayers of God’s people. Who can you pray for today? Who can you help and strengthen, by bringing them before the Father? It really DOES make a difference… perhaps even life and death difference! You know others who are facing challenges, and sometimes a great cure for our own situations is to take our eyes off of our self and look to the good of others. Pray for them.
He is a faithful rescuer. Whatever your challenges are today, make the choice to rely on Him (not yourself), and then knowing He is taking care of you, pour strength on others who need it!
How is the Lord teaching you to rely on Him today? I would love to hear about it in the comments!