For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 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. 10 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. 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 ESV
Have you ever noticed that no matter how many times you have faced a particular trial it always seems like it’s the very first time? Example: Those of us who have struggled financially know that God is always faithful, but money speaks to us every time telling us “but it’s never been this bad…” or “there’s no way it’s going to work out this time!”. The devil has a way of doing a complete jedi-mind-wipe on us in regards to the many times that we have struggled, been tested and even been rescued. One of the most powerful things you can remember during a time of trouble is “I have been here before”.
Ever been lost while driving in your car? The street names are unknown to you and none of the restaurants seem to trigger a memory. Then there’s that moment while you are driving when suddenly something looks familiar! That’s the “I’ve been here moment” that changes everything. Instantly the stress goes away, the panic is resolved and you can begin to maneuver the situation like a pro. Shouldn’t it be that way spiritually? The enemy knows that if he can cause you to forget your last victory then fear can run amok.
Paul knew this.
In 2 Corinthians he is writing to the church with encouragement. He essential says, “We have been here before…” in verse 8. We don’t know the trial he faced while in Asia, but there was affliction and it looked to be happening again. He uses strong words saying, “For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself”. That is intense.
There are some common phrases that are used, even in the church, that sound spiritual but aren’t found anywhere in the Bible. One of those phrases is “God will never give you more than you can handle.” It sounds great, it sounds spiritual, but it’s not Biblical. The closest thing we find is from the book of 1 Corinthians when talking about temptations. It says, “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” This is far different from burdens! If we weren’t burdened by things beyond our ability, would we need Jesus to take up our burdens? (Matthew 11:28)
Daily people are faced with life-altering, mind-damaging circumstances that are beyond what they can handle without the supernatural hand of God to intervene. Paul and company were found in this position in our above text. They were “so utterly burdened beyond our strength”. The original language would say “Burdened without way of escape”. They were prepared for death but they relied fully upon God. In writing this to the church of Corinth, Paul is determined to tell them that they have been in this position before and God supernaturally rescued them from a situation that was sure death. He delivered us once and He will do it again.
One of the most powerful things you can remember during a time of trouble is “I have been here before.” God has done it once… We have overcome this before… This isn’t the first time… Be encouraged! Jesus said… “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will havetribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33