After Paul’s introduction concerning affliction and comfort, Paul backs it up with an account of his own life.
8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9 indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10 who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, 11 you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.
Paul is telling us, “look guys, I’m not just saying this, we experienced it ourselves in Asia.” They were so afflicted and burdened that they wanted to die. In a sense they did; they surrendered their troubles to the Lord instead of trying to shoulder the burden themselves. The world teaches us that this is how we get through difficulties. I struggle with this as well. When things get difficult, I “buckle down” and take it on headfirst. Usually, however, this ends in frustration. Even if I get through it on my own, it was quite more difficult and painful than it needed to be. I also make a lot of mistakes along the way because my own humanness comes out and I wind up hurting others as well.
God, however, will deliver you if you let Him. Now, I know it might seem weird to talk about an almighty and powerful God that we need to “let” do something, but this is how He designed the system to work. The Kingdom of God works contrary to how this world works. Everything is opposite. In order to gain victory we need to surrender to the Will of God. If we will set our hope in God and trust Him as our heavenly Father who knows best and loves us more than we can imagine, we will experience the power of God in our lives. But how do we do this? How do we surrender our afflictions to God if we don’t even truly know that He will or can take care of it? We ask Him for the strength to do it!
In the Gospel according to Mark, we see a story about this very problem. A man has a boy who is afflicted and his father wants Jesus to help but doesn’t really believe it’s possible. Here is Jesus’ response: 21 And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” I love that “if you can?” Jesus has been healing the sick and even resurrecting the dead. It almost seems as if He was offended by the statement but He says, “if you believe it can be done, then it can be done.” The man asks Jesus to help him believe more.
When we are struggling with problems and know that God can and will help us yet it is still difficult for us to believe, all we have to do is ask. He is an all-powerful, all-knowing God who wants to take care of you but He won’t just move in and do it. He wants your compliance. He wants to know you are going to trust Him. He wants you to realize you need Him in your life. Are you willing to stop trying to be God in your life and recognize The One who is God? It is in trusting God (or anyone else, for that matter) when you have doubt that puts you in a position of vulnerability. Once you see the faithfulness of God you will grow in faith yourself because you will see that who God says He is in the bible is the truth.