Truly, this world is no friend of grace and godliness. Nothing is accomplished for God but in the face of great and continuing opposition. The experience of trouble and opposition tends to weld the people who endure it very closely together.
Paul has indicated in verse 7, that they were partakers (sharers) of the sufferings he endured. Naturally, they would therefore be interested in his troubles.
I. THE PRICE PAID BY OUR CHRISTIAN FORBEARS FOR THE LIBERTIES WE NOW ENJOY
All that they endured was for the sake of the gospel. They could have avoided the persecution had they wished by refusing to offend the world by preaching the gospel.
1. That the Corinthians were partakers in his sufferings gave Paul hope. Verse 7. Since consolation is linked with trouble, he anticipated them being consoled.
2. We cannot share in the advance of the gospel without partaking in sufferings. The world in its nature has not changed. We cannot serve God without that suffering.3. A readiness to suffer indicates a true work of grace. Hebrews 10:32-39.
II. THE PRECISE CHARACTER OF THE TROUBLES PAUL FACED
We were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life, verse 8.
1. He had been pressed out of measure. The picture is of an overburdened animal sinking down under the weight.
2. It was above his strength. Few wish to acknowledge that they were unable to bear a burden. Paul freely did.
3. He despaired of life. There was no way of escape from death. Few know what it is to live with such a constant threat. Those who passed on to us the liberties of the gospel did.
III. THE PRACTICAL LESSONS TO BE LEARNED BY THE CORINTHIANS
1. Paul wished them to know of his trouble. He was not willing that they be ignorant of what happened to him. This can only be because he considered it beneficial to them to be informed. How often trouble is concealed from the church. It is not always right to do so.
2. The slaying of self-trust that trouble accomplished. But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead, verse 9. He felt that a death sentence was passed and all hope of escape was gone, he expected to die. At that very time he advanced in grace for he trusted in God alone for help and abandoned hope in self.
One of real trouble’s first victims is self-confidence. Paul was unable of himself to avoid death and so lost all confidence in himself. He was utterly cast on the Lord. Here is that which for our good must die and if it takes trouble to slay it, it is cheap at the price.
3. Prayer really works. Help was rendered by them, though they knew not his trouble, by their prayers, 10-11. Now those who prayed for his deliverance should praise God for that deliverance. Notice what he calls his life — a gift, a favour with which one receives without any merit of his own. This a far cry from today’s cry of man having a right to everything he desire. Life is a gift not a right. Each day is a cause for praise.
Let those who pray come back to praise.