God Delivers

(Part 5 of a series on God’s comfort in affliction)

Find the whole series here.

Part 1: God’s Mercy and Comfort
Part 2: The Who and Why of Comfort
Part 3: Sharing Christ’s Sufferings
Part 4: Depending on God

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. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

– 2 Corinthians 1:10-11

God could just as easily not have delivered Paul here. Paul could have been killed in Ephesus by angry mobs — or anywhere. Indeed in his ministry travels, he was stoned and left for dead, but by God’s grace, he got up again and returned to the place to preach more [Acts 14:19-20]. The word in Greek for “deliver” here is rhýomai, to draw or rescue a person to and for the deliverer. What that means then is God delivered Paul because He had a continuing purpose for Paul; He was not finished with him yet.

And that didn’t preclude Paul suffering more for the gospel. In fact, by saying that he has an ongoing (present and future) hope of deliverance, Paul is basically saying he expects continued suffering and tribulation from preaching the gospel. And his only hope to be delivered from it again rests in God. This is his great comfort. Continue reading

Depending on God

(Part 4 of a series on God’s comfort in affliction)

Find the whole series here.

Part 1: God’s Mercy and Comfort
Part 2: The Who and Why of Comfort
Part 3: Sharing Christ’s Sufferings

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 so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead;

– 2 Corinthians 1:8-9

After explaining the relationship between suffering and comfort, Paul had a heartfelt interest that the Corinthians would know what exactly he had been going through in his missionary travels. Paul needs a listening ear here. In other words, “let me tell you how tough things have been lately!”

We do not know from biblical record what Paul refers to here, but we can surmise that it arose in or near Ephesus. He had very likely faced continuing Jewish opposition to the gospel and it made life very difficult. Continue reading