Every morning, before Alec starts on the 3 R's, we spend some time reading the bible together and then a chapter from another book. Sometimes the book we read is fictional; sometimes an autobiography or a biography. For the last few months we've been reading Paul by Charles Swindoll.
This morning Alec and I read about Paul and some of what he endured as a follower of Christ, and how. It was soooooo convicting, and encouraging. (Convicting because I am nothing like Paul. I'm more like Nebuchadnezzar-"Would ya please just go away and let me eat some grass?!"
Anyway-I know several people who are going through some very difficult things in their lives right now. I'd like to share with you what Swindoll said about suffering and I hope and pray it encourages someone out there.
Swindoll starts the section by quoting 2 Cor. 1:8-9. "For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves....."
Swindoll goes on to explain that Paul was experiencing pressure from opposition. Pressure from rejection. Pressure from physical strain and pressure from emotional strain. Paul said that he was burdened excessively to the point where he despaired of life. He was at the breaking point.
2 Cor. 1:9-10 says, "Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us...."
Chuck Swindoll points out exactly what Paul is saying: God has delivered us. God is delivering us. God will deliver us.
I'm going to just quote directly from the book for a moment because it's so good!
Paul focused on God's ability to handle the circumstances from start to finish. That freed him to lean on and tap into God's power alone. I think the apostle reached the place where he realized he wasn't capable of altering anything. He wasn't competent enough to fix the problem or smart enough to solve the mystery. His confidence drained away to the point he despaired of life itself. At that critical juncture he found supernatural strength by looking up. He said, "Lord, right now I am unable to go on. I'm not capable. I'm not competent. I'm not confident in anything in myself to relieve this pressure. I trust You and You alone."
I'm probably the last person on earth who should be saying this because I fail at it more often than not. However, I'm going to say it anyway.
Go get a bible and your journal. Read Psalm 37:3. What's the last line say?
"Feed on His faithfulness." We need to remind ourselves that God is faithful. No matter what.
That's why I said to go get your journal. Not to write in it. To look back and see all the times the Lord has been faithful in your life.
Don't have a journal? Then just flip through the bible and feed on the faithfulness of the Lord-every page shows you how capable He is. How much He loves you. How His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses.
Swindoll says it all filters down to Surrender. Just tell the Lord you are in over your head and weary. Tell Him you can't do it one more day. Chuck says that is what the Lord is waiting for. Your surrender.