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Friday, December 07, 2007

Overwhelmed

"We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it" (2 Cor 1:8)

I have never known a time when so many of my friends and family have felt under such pressure. It can be almost overwhelming at times.

Paul Struggled Too
It should be some comfort to us that even the great apostle Paul found himself in extremis at times. But we take greater comfort from the fact that we have fellowship with "the God of all comfort" (2 Cor 1:3).

It has been said by someone far wiser than me that we only realise that God is all we need when we find that He is all we have. Paul says, "we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God" (v9). He and his companions learned that the Lord was faithful and trustworthy, that he did rescue them from their difficult circumstances. Through these experiences their faith and confidence in God grew.

When All You Can Do Is Pray
Sometimes we look at the challenges faced by our loved ones and feel impotent. We may even say, "I don't know what else to do but pray". But Paul recognised the utmost importance of prayer. "You are helping us by praying for us," he says (v11). We should never undervalue the power of prayer.

It may be that our simple prayer is the key to resolving the problems faced by those we care about. For reasons best known to Himself God chooses to act in response to prayer. We can pray that those who are struggling experience the comfort of the felt presence of Jesus, or that they have the strength to stand firm in their troubles. We can pray that the Lord will stir the hearts of those who can help in practical ways, or that he will give wisdom, insight and understanding so that problems can be solved.

Prayer College Assignment
When you find yourself wondering how on earth you can support someone you love who is going through difficult times, don't think of prayer as a last resort. Use it as a starting point for helping others. It may even be that as you pray the Lord will prompt or inspire you with ideas that are just what is required to make a difference.

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