“For we don’t want you to be unaware, brothers, of our affliction that took place in Asia: we were completely overwhelmed – beyond our strength – so that we even despaired of life.” (2 Corinthians 1:8)
Whatever the event Paul was describing above, it was not recorded in the Book of Acts. The riot in Ephesus could possibly be the event, but Paul’s behavior and attitude in that event was not consistent with someone who despaired of life itself. This event, whatever it was, totally overwhelmed him and his team. They thought they were going to die. This felt like a death sentence.
Paul explained what he felt was God’s purpose in allowing this to happen to them: “so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.” (verse 9)
How many times have you wondered why God allows us to experience events that are uncomfortable, hurtful, distressing, or even life-threatening? While we may not have a good grip on understanding this, we can at least come to the same conclusion Paul reached: God wants us to learn to trust in Him and in His purposes, and not in ourselves.
Our abilities have built-in limitations. Our ingenuities also have limits. Our resources as well. We prefer to think of ourselves as having no real limitations. We even teach our children: “You can do anything, if you just put your mind to it.” We are taught to think that we can be anything and do anything, and we like that thinking until those overwhelming events rise up and show us our limitations. Maybe that is the point where we are then teachable. That is when we learn that God and His power is the only real resource we have when the floods sweep over us.