No Longer Afraid
And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:7-9)
I have had Christians tell me they were persecuted at their job or in their community for their faith. Still, Christians in America don't understand the type of persecution the early church fathers went through and stayed faithful to Jesus despite it. Paul explained the extent of the persecution he experienced saying that in Asia, he was first pressed out of measure, meaning to be thrown and weighed down - like a wrestler who pins you to the floor. Paul then said the persecution was above strength; the Greek for that phrase is huper dunamis, which means far beyond normal force. The persecution was so severe that Paul thought his life might be over.
Paul, however, didn’t end there. He continued saying, “we had the sentence of death in ourselves.” The word sentence in Greek means answer. In other words, God gave us the answer to any type of death that may try to manifest in our lives.
What is the answer to death? We no longer fear death because of Jesus’ sacrificial death on our behalf. Since we no longer fear death, death no longer holds us hostage. Paul explained that if we die, we go to Heaven with God. If God still has work for us to do here, He can raise the dead. Paul taught us that the key to peace through tribulations was knowing that Jesus defeated death.
Practical Application – When fear tries to grip you in a moment of difficulty, boldly say, “I will not fear because God is with me, and Jesus has defeated death."
Romans 5:12; Romans 5:21