2 Corinthians 1:8-11
On Him We Have Set Our Hope
In the Book of Acts, Luke presents a straightforward account of what happened on Paul’s missionary journeys through Asia and Greece, but provides few if any details of what the Apostle and his companions felt on those journeys—their inward struggles, doubts, or anxieties. We are left to think that they weathered every storm manfully and with complete confidence of the outcome of dire situations. Well, in these few verses, Paul allows us the opportunity to peer into the inward battles he endured while on those journeys, and we see a man much like ourselves—a man who experienced despair, heavy burden, and perhaps not a little fear.
And why does Paul open his heart like this to these Corinthians? Well, for two reasons that I can see: 1) The Practical Matter: The Corinthians were miffed that Paul had not visited them according to previous arrangements, and he needed to explain why—yes, it is very juvenile of the church to behave this way, but we are dealing with the customary habits of the Corinthians, habits which are not unusual of Christians in our own day; and, 2) The Spiritual Matter: Which is what the rest of this devotion is about.
Paul writes: “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. 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.” These are beautiful and timely words for those who are presently taxed beyond their strength: God is calling you to rely not on yourself but on Him, and Him alone. God has a way of using our circumstances to teach us how weak and unable we are, how incompetent, how pitiful—indeed, that we are dust, here for a little while and gone tomorrow. We discover how little we can do, how frail our bodies are, how our words simply disappear into thin air and our intentions accomplish nothing. This is what it is to be a human being, and even worse, a very sinful human being at that. What can we do?
Rely on God. Turn to Him. Stop trusting in flesh and put your faith in the Maker of heaven and earth, the One who raises the dead, and the only One who truly delivers you. Paul triumphantly proclaims, “He delivered us, and He will deliver us again!” Paul will later tell these Corinthians: “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness,” (11:30) for it is in those things and those times that we realize where our power comes from. On Him must we set all our hope; He alone is our strength and our salvation.