It is a Word of conviction, prayer, a declaration and a prophecy.
2 Cor. 1: 8-11 AM – 8 For we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about our trouble in [the west coast province of] Asia [Minor], how we were utterly weighed down, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life [itself]. 9 Indeed, we felt within ourselves that we had received the sentence of death [and were convinced that we would die, but this happened] so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead. 10 He rescued us from so great a threat of death, and will continue to rescue us. On Him we have set our hope. And He will again rescue us [from danger and draw us near], 11 while you join in helping us by your prayers. Then thanks will be given by many persons on our behalf for the gracious gift [of deliverance] granted to us through the prayers of many [believers].
God delivered Paul and his team from what he called affliction as they journeyed in Asia. He was giving this testimony to the brethren in Corinth. Asia in this instance might be Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, etc. God delivered them from those afflictions. Other version says troubles, hardships, suffering, tribulation, trials, pressure, etc.
Apostle Paul did not tell us what these afflictions were in this passage, but there are other passages where Paul mentioned certain hardships they faced in their missionary journeys in the Asia Minor.
In Acts 19: 24-41, Paul was almost killed together with Gaius and Aristarchus at Ephesus by a mob stirred up by Demetrius (a silversmith), because of perceived danger to their trade of idol crafts; and that people might not come again from all over the world to give reverence to Diana, the god of Artemis, Ephesus. It was by miracle they escaped.
Again, in Apostle Paul farewell to the Church in Ephesus, he wrote to them from Malta, reminding them of great tribulation he suffered from the hands of Jewish people as he tried to establish the church there.
Acts 20: 19 17 However, from Miletus he sent word to Ephesus and summoned the elders of the church [to meet him there]. 18 And when they arrived he said to them:
“You know well how I [lived when I] was with you, from the first day that I set foot in Asia [until now], 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and trials which came on me because of the plots of the Jews [against me]; 20 [you know] how I did not shrink back in fear from telling you anything that was for your benefit, or from teaching you in public meetings, and from house to house, 21 solemnly [and wholeheartedly] testifying to both Jews and Greeks, urging them to turn in repentance to God and [to have] faith in our Lord Jesus Christ [for salvation].
Apostle Paul also talked about a couple in Rome who risked their lives to save him from a terrible situation. It meant that the situation must have been life threatening for him to say so.
Rom. 16: 3-4 3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their own necks [endangering their very lives] for my life. To them not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.
Apostle Paul, again responding to comment from certain apostle that they were first rated than people like Paul; he mentioned few of the things he had been through in ministry.
2 Cor. 11: 23-28 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they [self-proclaimed] servants of Christ?—I am speaking as if I were out of my mind—I am more so [for I exceed them]; with far more labors, with far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, and often in danger of death. 24 Five times I received from the Jews [e]thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent adrift on the sea; 26 many times on journeys, [exposed to] danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own countrymen, danger from the Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger on the sea, danger among those posing as believers; 27 in labor and hardship, often unable to sleep, in hunger and thirst, often [driven to] fasting [for lack of food], in cold and exposure [without adequate clothing]. 28 Besides those external things, there is the daily [inescapable] pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel [his] weakness? Who is made to sin, and I am not on fire [with sorrow and concern]?
Has God delivered you from any affliction in the past? Has He delivered you from past troubles, hardships, suffering, tribulation, trials or pressures, especially in 2022? The same God will deliver you in 2023.
I may not know what God had delivered you from this year, could it be:
Ungodly men; Your countrymen; Authorities; Circumstances; Situations. He will yet deliver you.
One does not need to send an invitation letter to hardship, trouble or affliction before they happen. They just come, or spring up from nowhere. The confidence we have is that God has delivered us before; He is delivering us now; and He will deliver us again.
The God that has saved us from ‘the lion and bear’ of 2022; He will save us from the Goliath ahead of us – the year 2023.
Apostle Paul testified that God saved them from those afflictions. Whatever affliction that might want to rise against you in the coming year, God will save you from them in Jesus name.
Apostle Paul mentioned the extent of what God saved them from:
From such a great death. Paul has seen a lot in life and ministry. For him to call this instance a great death, must mean that it was pretty bad.
He however said that the same God still doth deliver them; and will yet deliver them again.
He also testified that the prayers of the saints had also helped them. That deliverance came for them by the prayer of many brethren. There are certain afflictions that come, and it can be very difficult to pray during it; prayers of saints at such times can be very helpful (Acts 12: 1-11).
He further said that since God could deliver them from such a terrible situation; that the same God is able to preserve them to His heavenly Kingdom in the end.
Sadly, Apostle Paul mentioned certain things that the affliction did to them temporarily:
– They were pressed beyond measure.
– They despaired life as living became worthless and unnecessary.
– People thought they would die, they themselves did not think they would make it.
The good part though about the affliction was that it made them to understand more why they must not trust in themselves; and it also made them to have confidence in the power and providence of God Who could have raised them from the dead should they have died.
This is the God I commend you into His hands in 2023. He will surely deliver you again in Jesus name. And God will again rescue you in Jesus mighty name.
– Sermon preached by Pastor Sam Obafaiye at Crossover service on 31/12/2023.