I was refreshed this past weekend by a vacation in the Jacksonville Beach area. It was a good time to be away, because I was completely depleted, and discouraged about some things that were going on in my life. As I sat by the beach on Saturday morning and wrestled with my discouragement, talking to God about it, the following verse in II Cor 1 came to mind.
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” II Cor 1:8-9
This scripture has so much in it!
Under great pressure — The wording evokes the idea that they were trying to carry a burden that was way too heavy.
Far beyond our ability to endure — The troubles they experienced were not just beyond what they thought they could tolerate, they exceedingly surpassed their limits. No words were great enough to express enough how hard it was. They did not feel that they had the inner strength and resources to do what they needed to do.
So that we despaired of life itself — Feeling utterly without resources, there could see no solution, no way out. They saw no way they could go on living. The wording even suggests that they had possibly lost the desire to go on living.
But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God — Because of the experience of being completely at a loss, so obviously without the resources to deal with their trials, it became absolutely clear to them that they had to have something more than themselves to be able to cope.
All of this speaks so perfectly about what I had been going through. I had felt at the end of my rope of endurance, and it seemed the things I was trying to help weren’t enough, so it was discouraging.
Now, MY GOAL IS TO RELY ON GOD MORE, to draw upon His resources more, to get down on my knees more during the day and ask for His strength and guidance, instead of trying to gut it out. I have to draw on the pure wonderfulness that is Him.
“It is the wilderness of the mind, the desert wastes in the heart through which one wanders lost and a stranger. …..having lost the springs that nourished us…..Eternally, woman spills herself away in driblets to the thirsty, seldom being allowed the time, the quiet, the peace to let the pitcher fill up to the brim.” From “Gift From The Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
I need to take the time to be replenished by the quietness, the sacred closeness of God. Let me remember that the time I take to pray is the best time of the day. Let me feel His arms wrapped around me in warm embrace as I talk with Him. Let me not just feel the negative flow of needs as I heap petitions on Him. Let me bask in His glory and dance in His grace.
“For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” II Cor 1:5
The sea tumbles objects around in its surf. I walk on the shore and my feet are not cut by the shells. Their edges have been worn by the constant motion of the sea. They may be broken, but they have been polished and each shell has a pristine beauty to it.
So life also tumbles us about with many a challenge, and we are polished. I cannot fear the tossing I undergo, or that I see about me. It is a part of God’s process.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
….Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” II Cor 4:7-10, 16-17