2Co 1:8-11 “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.”
Paul opens this letter with admonition concerning suffering and consolation. He then calls the churches attention to what appears to be a particular time of trouble in his life. Some scholars think that Paul did not want them to be ignorant of this trouble because it had delayed his coming unto them. While this is certainly a possibility, it is sure that Paul wanted to convey to the church that they would not face anything that God was not able to handle.
Whatever trouble it was that Paul had faced, we know it must have been severe. In this particular instance, he says they were “pressed out of measure.” In other words, Paul and whoever his companions were in this distress were pushed beyond their human limits to endure. After all that he had already suffered in his life, Paul says at this time he “despaired even of life.” Not only did Paul not know if he would live through this event; he was not even sure he wanted to.
Paul was so convinced that they were under sentence of death that he declared they had lost all confidence of this life. They had accepted that death was imminent and turned their eyes to God “which raiseth the dead.” Paul and his companions had given up on deliverance from this state to the extent they felt their only hope of life now resided in the resurrection that was to come. However, Paul was taught again that there is no circumstance too great for God.
In this situation that was to Paul a time of certain death, God intervened. God saved (delivered) Paul and his companions even though they did not think there could be any deliverance. This deliverance was a great encouragement to Paul. He was reminded that the God who delivered him from this seeming impossible situation continued to deliver him. Our Heavenly Father blesses us with this same grace today.
When we find ourselves faced with circumstances that we were sure would destroy us, God delivers. His deliverance gives us the grace to learn to trust in that deliverance in every trouble. His faithfulness causes us to trust that not only has he delivered us out of past troubles, and we trust Him to deliver us from present trouble, but that He is also able and faithful to deliver us from future trouble (that He “will yet deliver us”).
We also find a clear assurance of something else in our lives. When we pray together for one another, it is a help. It helps us and it helps those for whom we pray. This ultimately brings us to the point of being thankful to God for the privilege of praying to Him on behalf our brothers and sisters, knowing that it is He that comforts both them and us.
May we remember, even when we are pressed to the point of despair, that God is always able!