It’s easy to think of Paul as a spiritual giant who never became discouraged by the many afflictions he suffered. After all, he tells us to exult not only in the hope of the glory of God but also in our tribulations, since they are a tool the Lord uses to produce perseverance, proven character, and hope in us (Romans 5:1-4)
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Yet in today’s passage, Paul writes with great transparency, saying he was burdened beyond his strength and despaired of life. However, He knew the Lord was not absent in all those afflictions and realized he had to trust God rather than himself. That is a lesson we can learn from as well.
If we give in to self-reliance and fear, we’ll find ourselves going down wrong paths: We may vacillate and become weaker instead of growing stronger in the storm. Oftentimes, in desperation, we’ll ask other people for guidance instead of going to our Father. Our first response should be to seek understanding from Him about what’s happening in our life. This is why time with the Lord in His Word and prayer is top priority. That’s where we discover His purposes and come away emotionally settled.
2 Corinthians 1:8-11 (NKJV)
8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, 11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.
“Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:8 (NLV)
We live in a world where some people find hope, but few things are certain. People change. Circumstances change. There is always the question of what lies ahead tomorrow and thereafter. This uncertainty often causes us angst. There are so few things we can rely on confidently.
But one thing we can count on as Christians is eternity with Jesus. Yes, we can be “fully confident,” as Paul says, that when we are absent from our earthly bodies we will be at home with the Lord forever.
The saved can count on this with absolute certainty. But being saved is more than belonging to a church or having head knowledge about the Bible and the Christian faith. It comes from a personal relationship with Jesus.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
Salvation comes when we confess our sins and invite Jesus to be our Lord and Savior and live within us through the work of the Holy Spirit.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24)
Today, as someone who is saved, you can have full confidence that what awaits you in heaven is far better than anything this earth has to offer.
Lord, thank You for the invitation to live with You forever. I confess my sins and surrender my heart and life to You again. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and impart to me assurance of salvation. Amen.