“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (NIV)
God’s goal is to conform every believer into the likeness of His Son that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And He wants to do things in us and through us that are unearthly in their nature – far beyond our abilities - as the One who gives the power gets the glory, Amen? Paul writes to the Corinthians regarding his experience in Asia which had left him at the end of himself – powerless – far beyond his ability to endure. Rather than gloss over this despair, Paul highlighted it to stress the importance of relying on the power of God through the indwelling Holy Spirit rather than the mere arm of flesh. And God does what only God can do. And guess what? God gets the glory, not man. Further, God will either change our circumstances or change us in our circumstances – the latter always being the greater miracle.
Nothing happens to us by chance or happenstance. God is in total control. He is on His throne – right where He has always been. We can know through God’s faithfulness – which, BTW, is one of the richest jewels in His crown – that every promise of Scripture is “Yes” and “Amen” through Christ Jesus. The perseverance of all the saints depends upon God’s decrees in Scripture and His faithfulness fulfills each one. He never goes against His Word – His revealed will - His complete Word. His promises are as a sealed deal that cannot be reversed.
Believers can know for certain when the furnace of our afflictions burn brightly, God is with us in them and He is working both in and through us – taking away the poison of the dross and strengthening our faith, making us more and more like our Lord Jesus. And it is always for our ultimate good. The thing itself is not, but what it is accomplishing in us through His power is. We must quit kicking against Him for our best.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30 (NIV)