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 CO 1.8-9
In Asia, Paul found himself “utterly burdened” beyond his own strength. He was so weighed down he thought he would die. God placed him in a situation too heavy for him, beyond his own strength, far too massive for him to handle.
Why would God do this? Does he take some kind of sadistic pleasure in stretching us beyond our limits? Does God enjoy straining us to the breaking point?
God put Paul in dire straits so he’d experience God’s incredible power to deliver him. He stretched Paul beyond his own strength so he’d rely on God’s strength, not his own. For Paul was a very capable man. Before getting saved he had advanced in Judaism beyond many of his contemporaries. He had brains. And as a Christian, God had gifted him incredibly. He knew the Scriptures and could debate anyone. He’d worked miracles. He’d seen God use him to save many.
So God so laid a weight on him so far beyond his own strength and wits he’d have to rely on God, not himself.
God does similar things with all his children.
He puts us between rocks and hard places. He puts us in situations we can’t escape. Perhaps you’re paired with someone at work who makes your every working moment miserable. Maybe you have several small maniacs, I mean, children, who bounce off the walls from the time they get up till bed time. Maybe you have an unsaved teen who causes you unbelievable grief. Or severe health or financial problems. I could go on, but you get the idea.
What do we do when we’re “burdened beyond our strength?” We can keep trying to solve things on our own, or we can give up and slide into despair, or we can turn to the world for relief. But none of these are the answer. The answer is to “rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”
God won’t let his children rely on their own wits or strength. He’s determined to bring us to total dependence on him.
If you’re facing a mountain today, turn to the Lord who moves mountains. Cast your burdens on him. He gives strength to the weary and hope to the hopeless.