This post is part of my book launch, Meeting God at Wits’ End: Hope for the Weary …
God’s Main Lesson
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.
2 Corinthians 1:8-9
What’s the main lesson of wits’ end? While there are many facets, there’s only one point: “But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” It’s the deliverance from self-reliance and the cultivation of a wholehearted God-reliance. Even Paul still needed that.
Unless you’re convinced that no one but God will do, you’ve not come to the end of yourself. Unless you deeply realize that only He can supernaturally bring it about, you’ve not come to the end of your self-reliance.
One of the greatest idols of the human heart is self-sufficiency, thinking that we can bring about spiritual benefits, either for ourselves or others. Much of today’s preaching and teaching is focused on that. Total despair of self and an utter dependence on God is more so a theoretical truth than a deep-felt reality. That’s why “the furnace of affliction” (see Isa. 48:10) is necessary to burn away this dross from our lives. It’s ultimately meant to prepare us for the day when we’ll stand before Him.
The apostle Paul shared the afflictions he and his team experienced in Asia. Things we entirely beyond their strength and they despaired about continuing any longer. They felt it was all over. While we don’t know the specifics of their circumstances, we do know that things were beyond their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual capacity.
Is this only applicable when we’re in the trenches of missionary work, or does God also allow things to go beyond our capacity in everyday life? God has many ways to teach us this lesson, whether we’re in ministry or not. The concept is the same. Our difficult circumstances have one message: we should not in any way rely on ourselves, but on God alone. That seems to be a lifelong lesson that we need to continually learn.
Paul purposefully highlighted the “God who raised the dead.” When life and strength are gone, not able to go on anymore, there’s a God who’s able to raise the dead. He’s able to help us through it, no matter what. Furthermore, I also believe Paul highlighted God’s ability to raise the dead as a reference to Christ’s resurrection. Jesus’ finished work on our behalf is as true as ever before, even when things are completely out of our control. That’s genuine hope for the weary.
Jesus, thank You that You’re working out Your gracious purpose in my afflictions.
The Devotional Writer
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