Notice how God kept Paul dependent and looking to Him to meet His needs in 2 Cor. 1:8-10: “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,”
I want to point out a few things about what Paul says here. 1. Notice that Paul ascribes a reason for his suffering, and that he looks at that suffering as being controlled by God to produce a good result. Paul says that they were burdened excessively so that their trust would move from themselves to God. The words “so that we would not trust in ourselves” indicate the purpose or reason for Paul’s suffering. 2. Notice also that the suffering was intense and involved severe, negative emotions. Paul said that his difficulty was “beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life.” The fact that God promises us His joy does not mean that we will never suffer intensely painful emotions. Another writer of Scripture—Asaph—in Psalm 77:4 demonstrated this when he wrote that “I am so troubled that I cannot speak”. Nevertheless, God is always moving us in the direction of joy and contentment. The end result of Paul’s divinely controlled trial was that He trusted in God, and He steadfastly set his hope on God. Notice again his confident words of hope in God his Deliverer at the end of the verse.
God clearly became more real to Paul through his sufferings. He learned to go directly to God to “obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Paul’s appreciation for God in his life as his Rescuer and Savior increased in a very practical and real way. Paul’s personal love for God undoubtedly also increased as he came to lean more on God in His daily life. As Paul’s trust and hope became more cemented in God, God lifted Paul’s emotions of despair. Notice how encouraging, and even thrilling, it is to see that Paul describes God as the One who “raises the dead”? If God can do the impossible and raise the dead, then He is the all-powerful, miracle working God who can meet your deepest needs in your darkest hours. God is glorified as God as we come to rely on Him and rejoice in His amazing power and provision. However, as we have seen, we only get to the point where we have this attitude through intense trials and painful suffering. If that is what is necessary in order to more steadily trust in God and hope in His wondrous, life-giving power, then we should entrust ourselves to our loving Father and be willing to endure the trials. We can say, “I’m yours Father, I’m willing to go through the trials, because I want more of You”.
Over and over again the psalmists talk about finding refuge and strength in God in their personal lives. Psalm 18:1-2: “I love Thee, O LORD, my strength.” The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge”; Psalm 28:6-8: “The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.”
Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”. (See also Psalm 29:11; 37:39; 118:14) It is an invigorating and uplifting experience to find inner strength for living the way these Psalm writers have in their personal lives. The Apostle Paul also reported experiencing this strengthening when he endured trials another time, and said, “but the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.” Jesus talked about this experience of finding personal relief and rest in Him when He said, Mat. 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
The “heavy laden” can find relief from their burdens in learning about and following Jesus Christ. Isn’t it obvious that as we find relief in Christ from our burdens that we will learn to turn to Him in our hours of need? As He shows Himself faithful to His promise of lifting the load of the heavy laden, and supplying His light and easy load, He is glorified and our trust and dependence on Him increases. His role as the great Provider, and the one and only Sovereign and everlasting God is more firmly established in our minds and hearts. He already is the divine Ruler over all things whether we acknowledge it or not. However, we are able to bring more glory to Him as the great Provider and Sustainer of all things as we look to Him alone to meet our Spiritual needs. Sometimes He does this through His word, and even through other people as the Scriptures clearly teach. It is an unbelievable stretch to believe that he also does it through something never mentioned in the Scriptures like psychiatric medication.