This message was preached yesterday at Liberty Lighthouse Church of God in two parts, morning and evening services. In these times of uncertainty, it is comforting to know God’s promises are sure; he will not fail to provide for those who put their trust in him.
Foundational Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 (ESV)
8 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. 9 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. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
Paul addresses this letter to the church of God in Corinth, along with all the saints in Achaia. Timothy is his traveling companion on this trip, and the Apostle Paul wants the church to realize the tremendous blessings awaiting them as they labor for Christ. In fact Paul declared that as they shared in his sufferings, they would also share in the comfort the Lord would grant them. What wonderful promises God has for us.
Look at three important aspects of this amazing ministry:
Burdened beyond their strength: Troubles were so many and the burdens were so severe, there was not enough strength in themselves to handle them. Have you ever been under such heavy burdens you felt there was no use going on? It’s as if they saw what was ahead of them, but there was no more strength left to complete the task. In other words, you go as far as you can go, yet there’s still more awaiting you, even after you’ve put everything you had into the battle. Life is not always easy, and some of you reading this need to understand how much the Lord wants to help you.
They despaired even of life: I’ve been there, too. There have been times in my life I just wanted to throw my hands in the air and quit. I’ll just wave the white flag of surrender and get it over with, but that’s not the answer. Life comes at us hard most of the time, and it can get to be quite overwhelming. Many think the best way is to run off into a corner and hide from everything; it just doesn’t work that way. The Apostle Paul faced more storms in his life than most, and one in particular ought to encourage us to see hope is near.
Paul was on his way to Rome to appear before Caesar, when the ship he and other prisoners were in sailed into a great storm called the northeaster. The storm was so bad, the captain decided to allow the ship to be driven by the strong winds. It was a terrible situation, but Paul had been assured by the Spirit of God he would testify about the Lord Jesus Christ before the seat of Caesar. What God promises, he is well able to fulfill. Look, though, at Acts 27:13-20 to see despair that troubled this mighty man of God:
The Storm at Sea
13 Now when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to the shore. 14 But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land. 15 And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. 16 Running under the lee of a small island called Cauda,  we managed with difficulty to secure the ship’s boat. 17 After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear,  and thus they were driven along. 18 Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. 19 And on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.
Sentence of death on them: Thirdly, they felt as though a death sentence had been imposed on them. Can you imagine trials so hard you felt as though you were going to die? Surely, we have all faced things in our lives which were so overwhelming, we didn’t know whether or not we could make it another day. How dreadful that feeling must have been for Paul and Timothy. Knowing their work was over and their lives were going to end must have been incredibly painful for them, but all was not lost.
Paul wrote something we all must realize, if we are in Christ. God is working on our behalf, and allows us to go through trials and temptations in order to strengthen our walk with him that we might grow into mature Christians. Paul declared the sentence of death came in order for he and Timothy to quit relying on themselves. What they needed to do, and what we must do, is quit thinking we can live our lives by ouselves – we need to put our trust and confidence on our heavenly Father. 2 Corinthians 1:9 declares: 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.
Did you really see what Paul said? He called what most of us do when we leave God out of our plans a deadly peril. I don’t know about you, but that’s a pretty serious claim on Paul’s part. Let me put this in language that should hit us where the rubber meets the road: if is death to us when we depend on ourselves instead of being led by the Spirit of God. I realize many people don’t want to acknowledge that, or give God that much room in their lives, but I believe Paul was right on in this statement. If we only rely on ourselves, we will surely be disappointed. Look at the parable Jesus told in Luke 18:9-14:
The Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed  thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
We must set our hope in God, depending on him to take care of all our need:
Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Matthew 6:25-34 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
God’s answer to those who ask in faith believing is not yes, no, maybe or possibly. It is an emphatic “Yes!” For the Christian whose faith rests in the Lord, for those who ask in faith believing God’s promises, the answer is nothing but “Yes, child, I will.” Oh, the riches of being a child of God. My father knows my need and supplies according to his great grace and power.
Trust in him today, and know what he promised he is well able to perform.