2 Corinthians 1:8-11
There are a number of things to note here:
- Don’t expect to have an easy life when you become a Christian (8). In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…2 Timothy 3:12. As Juan Carlos Ortiz commented, ‘Jesus sets you free from your problems so you can have His, and His are a lot worse than yours!’ Hard as it is to face, we do need intelligence on what Christian brothers and sisters are going through in other places, so that we can pray for them, and be reminded of the true nature of Christianity: it is dangerous. The hatred with which Satan hated Jesus at His birth and tried to have Him destroyed (Matt.2:13-18) is now vented on Christ’s church. It is a real and violent thing.
- Whatever I am going through, it surely can’t be as bad as Paul’s sufferings (8b, 9a). Paul felt he was treading the borderlands of death and that he would soon cross over into it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. The Message. We have all known ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ in the Christian life; experienced ‘mountains’ and ‘valleys’. But I know I have never been in depths as deep and dark and low as Paul’s. So, if God could pull him out of his troubles He can bring me through mine. Take heart from Paul’s experience.
- Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity (9b). I once heard a preacher say that you can get so low that the only direction you can look is up; and when you do, you see God! The hard times make you strong, if you allow them to. Or rather, God strengthens us through our hard times. The hardships we face in living the Christian life break our self-reliance and cause us to cling to God. This can only be good, even if it is painful at times. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally-not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! The Message. When you’re shut up to trusting God alone who is there better to trust in?
- 4. Paul’s focus was on God alone (10). God had got his full attention. Paul was looking to God for deliverance, not to prayer. But he knew how important the prayers of his fellow-Christians were (11) and that it would be by means of prayer that the rescue would come. It would be the church making the ‘999’ call. Paul had absolute confidence in the power of prayer and regularly sought the intercessions of his Christian brothers. (See also Philemon 22 and Hebs.13:19 for a similar air of confidence about prayer).He knew that something definite would happen if they prayed. He looked forward with confidence to the praise that would flow when the prayers were answered. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation – I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part. The Message.
So here’s a little challenge for today: who are you helping by your prayers? Do you in fact believe that a real individual in your world can be rescued by means of your prayers?
Prayers: Thank you Lord for all who have prayed for me, and for those who still do. Don’t let me sin against anyone by failing to pray for them.