God's Way of Strengthening Faith
Pastor Tom Ascol continues his series in 2 Corinthians with a message entitled “God’s Way of Strengthening Faith” centered on 2 Corinthians 1:8-11. The Christian life is a life of faith. While faith provides an entryway to a relationship with God it does not stop there. Faith needs renewal, strengthening, and growth. Paul teaches that necessity in his own life and in the lives of all believers.
Today’s passage trains us to trust the God who raises from the dead. Importantly, believers ought to recognize the inevitability of trials. Scripture regularly tells us to expect trials. 1 Peter 4:12, for example, encourages us to “not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you.” Paul’s brief recounting of his severe trials and his trust in God serve as both example and instruction to the believer. Paul writes of the intensity of his suffering. Being “burdened beyond measure,” “despair[ing] even of life,” and having “the sentence of death in ourselves” seem more severe than the typical Cristian’s trials yet Paul recounts them as almost the norm in his life. Paul reflects on emotional lows in his life, something with which most honest Christians can identify. There are times when we, like Paul, just think we are not going to make it! Yet Paul finds a balance in recounting his story. He is not afraid to tell of his struggles but he does not make the story primarily about himself. Instead, he seeks to draw attention to God whose wisdom and power provide sufficiently for whatever trial in which a Christian may find himself.
The inevitability of trials turns out to be positive as God has purposes for them. Verse 9 gives more than a hint when it says Paul’s trials were “to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” Troubles, trials, and tribulations are God’s appointed tutor in the school of faith. They not only lead us to trust on God’s provision but, having trusted and gone through the trial, make plain God’s activity in our own lives. Trials are designed to increase our trust in God. Paul offers further evidence. In relying on One who raises from the dead, Christians can have confidence in the unlimited power of God. Who, after all, can raise from the dead except God? There is no greater power. Verse 10 teaches that having come successfully through trials and trusting in the One who has power of death increase a believer’s ability to live with hope focused on God’s faithfulness. This faithfulness is both for the present and for eternity, the day of the final resurrection.
If we are trusting in the God who raises dead people our only need is to determine what God wants us to do and step out in obedient faith. For those who have yet to trust in that God, even today He calls you to the salvation offered through the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the Cross of Calvary. Through that blood a restored relationship with God is possible and then you too can walk in obedient faithfulness despite trials and tribulations.