RESURRECTION MEETS OVERWHELMENT
BY THE REV'D CANON ART GOING
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers,[a] of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 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. (2 Corinthians 1:8-9)
We know the implications of Resurrection for our future:
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Jesus Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies. (Romans 8:11)
He will also raise us … bring us into his presence (2 Corinthians 4:14)
What we dare not miss is the present implications of Resurrection—the way Resurrection Therapy transforms us in the midst of our current overwhelment! In the face of overwhelment, Paul says: We do not lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:16) … He calls it all: this slight momentary affliction.
Slight momentary afflictions!: hardships, calamities, beatings - countless beatings, 5 times 39 lashes, 3 times with rods, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights [he knows you], hunger and thirst, often with our food, cold and exposure, often near seat, 3 times shipwrecked, a night and a day adrift at sea, in danger from rivers, in danger from robbers, in danger from my own people [he knows the life of a pastor], in danger from Gentiles, in danger in the city, in the wilderness, at sea, from false brothers (2 Corinthians 6:4ff.; 11:23ff.).
And then this: apart from the other things [!!!] there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Does that sentence alone make you want to fall on your knees to pray for your bishop?
The question is NOT: Do you ever get so overwhelmed with life's pressures and stressors that you begin to despair and 'wig out'?
The question IS: What do you do when, like the apostle Paul, life's pressures and stressors are so overwhelming that you question your ability to endure?
Pause for a moment … picture your own overwhelming . . .
2 Corinthians 1:8-9 is an amazing gift for us who may be in just such a season of overwhelment. I hear it in so many of voices of people I meet. I can sense it swelling in me when I am bracing for an intense season of ministry (in two different jobs). I know my friend is encountering it as he films with persecuted Christians in Turkey this week . . . overwhelment indeed!
But back to Paul's gift:
1. Paul felt no need to minimize his emotional state: he named pressures so great that he felt like he was going to die . . . no pretense or posturing.
2. Paul didn't hoard his hardships: he informed his friends so they would pray … pray AND (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) bear one another's burdens, welcome each other into their hearts, share their overwhelmings!
3. Paul didn't spend fruitless arrogant energy asking why: he focused instead on this: To what end am I experiencing so much stress?
SO THAT [and here comes the RESURRECTION THERAPY again] he might not rely in himself but upon God who raises the dead!
Paul always brings everything back to the gospel!
God raised Jesus, not only to rescue us from our unrighteousness and self-righteousness BUT ALSO from our self-reliance!
Whatever your overwhelment, you are not meant to carry it alone . . .
• Humbly name your anxiety.
• Share your story with your brothers and sisters.
• Trust the One who likewise has been overwhelmed, who meets you in your overwhelment, who makes a garden out of graves . . .
Let Jesus have the last word (John 16:33): In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; [say it with me] I have overcome the world.