THE END OF OURSELVES
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, 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.
2 Corinthians 1:8-9
Demetrius the silversmith was angry with Paul. So many people were getting saved in Ephesus that his business was being affected by loss of revenue from the sale of idols. Following his instigation of a riot, soon the entire city was in an uproar (Acts 19). Yet the dark days at Ephesus had a purpose indeed: They caused Paul to rely solely on God.
Like Paul, the tendency of most of us is to try to solve our problems with our own strength. Therefore, as He did with Paul, the Lord brings us to the end of ourselves from time to time — to the point where we feel pressed beyond measure, despairing even of life — in order that we will have no other choice but to call upon Him and find in Him greater strength than we could ever find in our own ability.
He was a go-getter from the very beginning, as evidenced by his grabbing his older twin brother’s heel in a failed attempt to be first-born. Throughout his life, Heel-Snatcher, or Jacob, was one who drew from his own cunning and acumen to get ahead — until the day he heard that his brother, from whom he had cheated his birthright and blessing, was headed his way, accompanied by four hundred men.
So desperate was Jacob that when an Angel appeared to him, he said, ‘I have no other heel to snatch; I’m at the end of my resources; I won’t let You go until You bless me.’ So they wrestled all night. And although Jacob ended up with a blessing when his name was changed from Jacob to Israel, from ‘Heel-Snatcher’ to ‘Governed By God’, he also limped away with a dislocated hip, as though God said, ‘With every step you take, you will be reminded that you — who once walked so proudly, who once stood so confidently — came to the end of yourself. And it was the best thing that that ever happened to you, for now, in your brokenness and weakness you’ll be stronger and more useful than you could have ever been in your own energy and cleverness.’ (see Genesis 32).
It’s a great day when a man finally comes to the end of himself and realizes, ‘I don’t need to go to another seminar or call another counselor; I don’t need to enroll in another program or come up with another creative idea. All I need is You, Lord. I’m going to wrestle with You. I’m going to cling to You. I’m going to depend on You because I need to be governed by You.’
Source: This devotional is an excerpt from the book “A Days Journey,” a collection of 365 short devotions from the New Testament by Pastor Jon Courson. www.joncourson.com