Trusting God as the means to an end is a bad plan. Trusting God is an end in itself.
If I'm walking through an airport and get a craving for some peanuts, I can go to any number of vendors and purchase a package. I am not after the vendor; I'm after the peanuts.
If I'm walking through my life and I have a desire for a different job, a different house, a different attitude… I can go to any number of vendors (employers, realtors, counselors) in an effort to get what I want. And if none of them have what I want when I want it, I can go to God. But if I treat God like just another vendor, then I will get nowhere with Him either—even if I call my negotiations with Him “trust.”
He is not just another vendor, existing to meet my needs. He is a relationship (my Lord), out of which my needs are met. Let me explain.
Paul and company traveled to Asia to spread the Gospel with some amazing results:
God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles. When handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were placed on sick people, they were healed of their diseases, and evil spirits were expelled. (Acts 19:11–12 NLT)
But the presence of the Gospel in Asia with all the accompanying miracles was bad for business for some folks.
About that time, serious trouble developed in Ephesus concerning the Way. It began with Demetrius, a silversmith who had a large business manufacturing silver shrines of the Greek goddess Artemis. He kept many craftsmen busy. He called them together, along with others employed in similar trades, and addressed them as follows: “Gentlemen, you know that our wealth comes from this business. But as you have seen and heard, this man Paul has persuaded many people that handmade gods aren't really gods at all. And he's done this not only here in Ephesus but throughout the entire province! Of course, I'm not just talking about the loss of public respect for our business. I'm also concerned that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will lose its influence and that Artemis—this magnificent goddess worshiped throughout the province of Asia and all around the world—will be robbed of her great prestige!” (Acts 19:23–27 NLT)
A riot developed, threatening the lives of Paul and his companions. But they escaped unharmed. (See Acts 19:23–41.)
Paul makes other references to the danger he and his companions faced on a daily basis, while in Asia.
If the dead will not be raised, what point is there in people being baptized for those who are dead? Why do it unless the dead will someday rise again? And why should we ourselves risk our lives hour by hour? For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, that I face death daily. This is as certain as my pride in what Christ Jesus our Lord has done in you. And what value was there in fighting wild beasts—those people of Ephesus—if there will be no resurrection from the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:29–32a NLT)
Now we move to 2 Corinthians chapter 1, where Paul is recounting these and other dangers they faced:
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. (2 Corinthians 1:8 NIV)
Even if you are not facing a literal life and death situation, whatever you happen to be facing may feel like it. So I want to show you how Paul dealt with the situation by demonstrating a true trust in God.
Paul is describing this point of despair that almost every one of us has faced. That point when we despair even of life. It could be a broken relationship, a health issue, a lack of resources, a business failure, the death of a loved one… whatever empties us.
Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver [us]…. (2 Corinthians 1:9–10 NKJV)
“We had the sentence of death in ourselves.” The ancient scholar Josephus defined this phrase as: “On asking myself whether I should come out safe from mortal peril, I answered ‘I must Die.'”
Please don't miss this. Paul had the realization that they were, in human terms, sentenced to death. This is the point where we have nothing left in ourselves to trust. We realize we are as good as dead. We have nothing… nothing… nothing. This is the point where trust in God begins.
While we may think we are seeing the end of the world, God is seeing a beginning. When we have absolutely nothing within ourselves to trust in, we are finally free to trust in Him. It's as if we say, “Hmm. I'm going to die.” But then we remember, “God raises the dead.”
This is trust. And there is power in this kind of trust—enough power to raise the dead back to life… enough power to transform any situation you might face.
If you are facing something that's causing you to despair even of life, I encourage you to camp out in this chapter over the next couple of days. Let God reveal to you what it means to trust Him.
Have a good weekend,