2 Corintians 1:9b The Word vs. The World
What the Word says: “But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God….”
Ah, the old self-empowering adage that says YOU got this…you can handle your problems, your trials, your worries, your fears, your concerns, your grief, your affliction…. And aren’t the best lies those that have a ring of truth? Indeed, this one sounds so wise and authoritative that many people actually think it comes from the Bible. But scour God’s word as you may, you will not find this hollow promise the world so often repeats with an air of finality. Instead, considering God’s word on the subject of suffering, you find a man named Job who famously lost everything, but rather than curse God and die, rather than resort to self-help, rather than hunker down and ride it out on his own, he cried out to a faithful God who delivered him. In God’s word, too, you find a man named Paul, a former persecutor of the church and self-proclaimed chief of sinners, who learned better than to rely on his own weak flesh, but to rely instead on an almighty God of purpose. This great apostle wrote of the affliction he suffered, claiming that he and his company were “so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.” Beyond our strength? That doesn’t sound like a message of self-empowerment, or even that God would relent of the affliction before the breaking point. Despaired of life itself? It sounds like Paul and his company had reached their breaking point! (Indeed, he went on to explain they felt they had received a death sentence (1 Cor. 1:8-9).)
God’s word does not declare that we can overcome the storm, but rather that God is in control of the storm and, of utmost importance, that God has purpose in the storm.
Paul clearly states that God’s purpose was to make them rely not on themselves, but on God! This is the antithesis of what the world preaches—that you have the strength in and of yourself to handle every affliction. You don’t. But God does. Paul emphasizes that God’s purpose in their affliction, beyond pushing them to rely upon Him, was to equip them to comfort others. And really, from whom on earth do we draw the most comfort but those who have experienced trials themselves and who bring God’s love to us? When we experience the trials of the world, we should not rely upon our own spiritual bootstraps, but we should flee to the God of all comfort, and finding it, we should be faithful to minister his grace to others when given the opportunity.
A final note: the world’s lie sounds like truth not only because it advocates self-empowerment, which appeals to our pride, but also because it seems to acknowledge God as a part of the equation: “God won’t put on you….” Certainly, our sovereign God is in control of the storm, but don’t mistake his allowance as ill will; his plan is not to break us, but to prosper his children. Now, this is not to further the wildly popular “health, wealth & prosperity” message of our day, for not all God’s children shall necessarily prosper in health or wealth or the things of this world, but we shall prosper spiritually, and we prosper no more surely than when we turn to God, when we rely upon Him, when we acknowledge Him, when we commune with Him
The truth is God may allow more than you can handle, but never more than HE can handle. Flee to him at the first sign of storm clouds, and enjoy the shelter and deliverance He faithfully provides for his children. And I would be remiss if I did not add this most important truth: the most serious storm is that of his wrath to come against sin, and his one and only shelter from it is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Flee to Him.
Curtis is a Lawyer in Green County, dedicated Family man