The Sentence of Death

Image Source:
Image Source:

For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: but we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God which raiseth the dead: who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us. 2 Cor. 1:8-10

Notice how Paul describes the trouble he endured in Asia: he describes it in terms of indescribable pressure ("pressed out of measure") and overwhelming difficulty ("above strength"). Whatever it was, this was trouble that threatened death ("insomuch that we despaired even of life"). In other words, when Paul looked at the situation in front of him, he had to resign himself to the fact that he might very well die. He didn't have a plan that would guarantee his safety. He was at the end of his own resources and ability and cleverness to meet the problems and overcome them. Humanly speaking, this was a situation that he was not able to control.

Then notice the Divine appraisal of and intention behind the trouble: "But we had the sentence of death in ourselves [the Divine appraisal], that we should not trust in ourselves but in God which raiseth the dead [the Divine intention]." In other words, God sometimes puts us in situations that we have no control over in terms of the outcome, and the purpose behind this is a good purpose: it is so that we will not trust in ourselves but in the living God. Sometimes, it takes situations like this, situations in which we feel broken and undone, for us to truly trust in God as we ought.

But again, this is a good thing. We are not living in reality when we imagine ourselves in control. And we will not be living a life characterized by peace and confidence and hope when we think we are in control. It is only when we give up the delusion of being in control that we will truly begin to put our trust in God who really is.

In fact, I love the description of God here: he is the one who "raises the dead." Death is something we cannot reverse. Death is final, humanly speaking. But not with God. God calls those things which be not as though they were (Rom. 4:17)! In other words, the thing that we have absolutely no control over - death - is the very thing that God overcomes for us in Christ. What is impossible with men is possible with God. We serve the God who raises the dead.

So, dear friend, don't go through life thinking you are in control. Rather, allow the troubles you face to be good reminders that God is your hope and trust, and that what brings upon you the sentence of death is no barrier to God's good purpose for your life. He has delivered you, time and again. He is delivering you right now, and he will deliver you in the age to come.

By: Jeremiah Bass