The most significant lesson Paul learned in his anguish was that he had to turn to the Lord and His covenant promises. He knew he could no longer trust in his own flesh, abilities or willpower. He writes, “We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9).
Paul’s trial had brought him to the end of his endurance. He knew he did not have any strength left to fight the powers of darkness so he sentenced his own flesh to death. And God marvelously delivered him: “Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us” (verse 10).
How was Paul delivered? Several things were involved: First, he was a mighty man of prayer and second, he had great confidence in the Lord. Paul knew God would uphold His covenant promises. He could say, “Just as the Lord has delivered me in the past, He is at work delivering me from this present trial. From now until the day I die, I’ll be living under His delivering power.”
Like Paul, we also are allowed to endure troubled times, so that we will die to our reliance on human ability. The Lord permits us to be crushed, made helpless and weak, in an effort to convince us we cannot defeat the enemy by any fleshly efforts.
As we compare our lives to Paul’s, we may be tempted to think, “I’ll never experience the kind of deliverance this man enjoyed. He was well-educated in the Scriptures and he received great revelations from the Lord about Jesus, the gospel, the New Covenant.
“And Paul ministered in the power and demonstration of the Holy Ghost. He single-handedly shook cities and nations. He couldn’t be killed by the devil, even after stonings, mob attacks, three shipwrecks. God even used him to raise the dead. This man was one of God’s most anointed servants in all of history. He had it together spiritually.”
Not so, according to Paul. The apostle makes it clear that there was one other important factor in his deliverance: the powerful intercession of praying helpers. “Ye also helping together by prayer for us” (verse 11). Paul was saying, “I’m confident God will deliver me. And you’re helping that come to pass by praying.”