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20 NOV 2023 | How The Rescuer Assures

What a paradox it might seem to read in the Bible: “for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10) What a difficult, even insensitive counsel it could even be to receive, and to give. But, if these words of conviction were to come from the one who is the sufferer, it inevitably melts indignation and instead, invites compassionate attention, investigation, and reflection. This was what a brother experienced, when his sister who was stricken with serious illnesses, took comfort, and even saw her mission in these words of another sufferer, which she read of in the Bible, the Apostle Paul himself. Paul reveals why he was able to say this. He wrote, “(God) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”

The sister told her brother how she came to see why Paul must have been so comforted and assured by these words of God to him. And why she is also comforted and assured by these words of God to her. She explained that she had been like a drowning person who could not help but instinctively used her strength to struggle and invariably made it more difficult for the rescuer to save her. But it was when she no longer had the strength to struggle, was she then more able to let the rescuer do what was needed to rescue her.

Her brother shared that through her journey in weakness, he saw strengths of peace and joy that were not there previously. This was evidently God’s power working in her, rescuing her from despair and enabling her to grasp eternal hope, which then became her wellspring of deep joy. This led him to reflect, what is his own peace, hope and joy in life based on?

Biblical Israel experienced this paradox too, although the context is entirely different. When God rescued her from captivity and slavery in biblical Egypt, she had no resources to begin a new life, except by God’s grace and providence. She was strikingly supplied for her immediate needs, and even enabled subsequently to develop into a glorious and prosperous kingdom, arguably reaching her existential peak in the reign of King Solomon.

Ironically, her strengths then lent her to be held in idolatry, which she could not free herself from, despite prophetic admonishments. It was only during her exile in Babylon, when she lost her power, that she could be finally freed from idolatry and rescued from the ultimate loss she could not have otherwise avoided.

Friends, when you are weakened, may those Word of the Lord comfort and assure, as He rescues you too.

Rev. Joseph Goh


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