We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
We do not know what happened to Paul in Asia. He does not give the specifics of the great pressure they were under. The pressure was so intense that Paul despaired… even of life! I am thankful that God kept Paul from writing the specifics of his hardship because now the principles of a ‘God of all comfort’ (vs. 3-4) who delivers His people from circumstances beyond what they can bear and the hope we can have in such a God comes shining through. It’s likely that we would miss these if the specifics of Paul’s pain was revealed. Now, however, these principles can be applied to my life and the specifics that I have. “God is the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles.”
So what do I learn from this passage?
- Pressure beyond the ability to endure happened to the Apostle Paul. Paul was God’s ‘chosen instrument’ (Acts 9:15-16). If him… then me.
- Despair ‘even of life’ is not uncommon to the human experience.
- God allows this so that we might not rely on ourselves (which we would do if circumstances were always what we could handle). God is the One to rely on! If He can raise the dead, which He can, then it’s not a problem. He can deliver me from every circumstance.
- God has delivered me in the past. He will deliver me now.
- God is the One to set my hope on. There is no other Savior!
- Prayer matters. Asking for prayer and receiving it helps. What’s more, when God delivers me, more than one person will praise God for it.