Speak Hope - by Ben Bonython
Suffering is not easy. Suffering is hard. The Apostle Paul talks about his suffering in 2 Corinthians 1.
For we do not want you to be unaware 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. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
2 Cor 1:8-11
Paul speaks very honestly about his feelings and experiences. When was the last time you shared that moment when you were pushed to the end of yourself?
It is hard to trust people with our feelings and story because we do not know how they will react. But what Paul does is affirm the hope he has. Paul places His feelings and story in Jesus alone, and is able to use his suffering to encourage us.
Paul points to a byproduct of suffering as an agent for hope. Never in the bible is suffering excluded from life. Jesus took the worst suffering to Himself on the cross and then calls us to carry our cross also. Suffering is part of this life BUT there is a difference. Paul's encouragement is to set our hope on God and trust that He will deliver us....again!
And in this hope, Paul asks people to pray. Paul believed strongly that prayer was connected to thankfulness and blessing. Note verse 11:
'You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.'
Do you fully appreciate that blessing is connected to prayer. I am not suggesting that all blessing is generated by our prayer, but I do believe that the Word is encouraging us to see that when we pray, blessing is a fruit for us. We are blessed through prayer as our hope is built and strengthened. And I believe that others are blessed through prayer as they thank the Lord for being blessed by Him, and knowing others are blessed by Him
Prayer is effective. James 5:16 reminds us that because Jesus has made us righteous, we are not afraid to confess our sin, but live in full hope of His blessing. James says that our prayer is powerful and effective.
This week, take time to pray and be blessed by the Lord. And be thankful that He knows about your suffering and worries and fears, and draws you closer to Him in hope. Let pray produce hope in you.
In all your thoughts and words and deeds, let Hope speak!