Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:1-24
Observation: Paul introduces himself to the Corinthians and begins to share how suffering can lead them to find great comfort in the Lord. He goes on to address how God rescued him in a time of great need and finishes by explaining why he changed his travel plans.
Application: A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to deliver our weekend message at The Journey. Although I’ve been on stage many times before, I was full of nerves and feeling the true weight of what I had been chosen to do – share God’s word with hundreds of people.
Heading into the weekend, I woke up on Friday morning with a sore throat that got worse throughout the day. At four months pregnant, I couldn’t take any medicine, and by 6 p.m., I was in bed eating chicken noodle soup, reading, and praying that I’d feel miraculously better the next morning.
No such luck.
I was up for hours Friday night coughing and sneezing, and when I finally woke up on Saturday morning, my sore throat was mostly gone, but it had moved to m nose and head. Just a few hours before I was supposed to speak, I was surrounded by piles of tissues, taking shots of honey that I washed down with hot tea, and attempting a homemade essential oils steam bath that made me feel approximately 0.07% better. I tried everything I could think of (to no avail) and finally switched from safe, “appropriate” prayers to emotional, faith-filled pleas to my Father to somehow help me get through.
And, of course, God, “our merciful Father and the source of all comfort,” came through. (verse 3)
He took all my human weakness and empowered me with his strength.
Minutes before I was supposed to take the stage, I was back in the greenroom, coughing so violently that I was afraid I’d get sick; I was surrounded by tissues; my eyes were watering so badly that I literally had mascara streaming down my face. (So classy.) I begged God to strengthen me, to take my weak and broken self and somehow make me strong. And when I stepped on that stage, my head was clear, my cough was gone, my voice was powerful, and my God was at work.
Paul’s story is similar.
“We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again.” (verse 8-10)
I recognize that I wasn’t “crushed and overwhelmed by my ability to endure” by a little head cold, but I was at the end of what I could do through my own strength. Just like Paul, I stopped relying on myself – my essential oils and heating pads and honey cough drops – and I relied on God instead.
Where our strength ends, his begins.
And it has no end.
So where do you need him right now? Where are you running out of your own strength and recognize that you need him to help you endure? Ask him in confidence today to be your strength.
Prayer: God, I praise you for picking up where we all short. I pray I can remember to fully rely on you rather than on my own human imperfections and inabilities. Amen.