The Death of Self-Reliance

July 3, 2019

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Paul faced so many difficulties and problems in his life. He had originally come from a place of great privilege, and God had allowed him to become a great leader. His credentials and accomplishments were truly impressive. There was a chance people might think he had it easy and could never understand the problems they faced. But Paul was well-acquainted with struggle and hardship. In his letter to his friends in Corinth he took great care to fill them in on just how serious the troubles were that he experienced in Asia. It was “great pressure” and “far beyond our ability to endure.” He “despaired of life itself,” felt they had received the sentence of death because of this “deadly peril.” Now, that’s a problem.

But Paul neither focused on nor told the story of the problem. He focused on the character and purpose of God. The purpose of God in the problem is to defeat self-reliance. Paul states it plainly. The problem didn’t happen because of anyone’s mistakes, fears, or pressure. It happened as an opportunity for Paul to quit thinking he could handle everything and rely on himself but instead choose to throw his whole weight on God.

We often hear the statement, “God will never give you more than you can handle.” That’s a misquote and is untrue. It’s a misapplication of 1 Corinthians 10:13 where God assures us that we do not have to give in to temptation. He says He will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle. He will always provide a way of escape. Yielding to temptation is always a choice, but having problems is not our choice. They descend on us without our choosing. No one chooses cancer. No one chooses for a child to die. These are terrible traumas; things that are beyond our power to handle. But they are never beyond God’s ability to handle. God will most certainly allow us to have problems too big for us to handle. They are intended to drive us to rely on Him, the One who CAN handle everything. Self-reliance will die and faith will grow if we turn to Him.

  • Where are you currently facing a problem too big for you to handle? Turn to God instead of trying to manipulate and handle things yourself. Wait on Him. God will give you more than you can handle, but He will never give you more than HE can handle.