We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through... We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.
1 Corinthians 1:8-9 New Living Translation
There are times in the life of every Christian that waiting for God to intervene is nothing less than excruciating. You may have experienced a situation where you felt like the apostle Paul, when he wrote, “We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it.” And yet, you found that God requires you to continue to wait.
As hard as it is to believe during such times of great stress and pressure, there is always a divinely redemptive purpose in the season of waiting that God ordains for His children. In the case of the Apostle Paul in the aforementioned scripture, the redemptive purpose of his difficult waiting period - was so that he and his fellow disciples would learn to rely on God alone and stop relying on themselves.
Self-reliance can been defined as “dependence on oneself, one's own efforts, resources and abilities.” It is an attribute that is both desired and cultivated by many people, and considered by some to be a virtue. In American culture, a person who has developed a strong sense of self-reliance is admired and applauded. So it may seem quite “un-American” for me to advocate against the pursuit of self-reliance. Yet the Bible clearly teaches us that reliance on “self” is foolhardy and leads to spiritual death. But reliance on God leads to abundant life and is to be pursued with all of our heart.
We find a crystal clear illustration in the Old Testament of the differing results that are produced when a person waits on God and fully relies upon Him to act, versus refusing to wait and deciding to rely upon “self” efforts and strategies. There was a King in Judah named Asa. Early in his reign he found himself faced with an enemy army from Ethiopia advancing against the land of Judah with a million soldiers. He was outnumbered militarily nearly two to one. The scenario was quite overwhelming and he must have felt like the Apostle Paul, thinking that he would never live through it. But instead of trying to win the battle with his own resources, he cried out to the Lord saying, “Lord, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude.” (2 Chron. 14:11) Because he relied on the Lord, God answered with a mighty miracle. The million man army was routed and they fled from Judah.
Some years later, King Asa faced another big trial. His neighbor, the King of Israel, besieged Judah with his army, not allowing anyone to go in or out of the capitol city. Once again, King Asa found himself in a desperate situation.