The apostle Paul faced danger in Ephesus when a riot was started by those who made silver shrines to the goddess Artemis because the effectiveness of the gospel Paul preached had impacted the demand for idolatrous merchandise (Acts 19:23-41). This seems to be what Paul referred to in his correspondence with the church at Corinth when he wrote:
“For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,” (2 Cor. 1:8-10).
Paul was thankful that the Corinthians had helped him through their prayers (2 Cor. 1:11). Whenever we are in dire straits, we want our brothers and sister in Christ to pray for us that God would see us through the difficulty. However, Paul’s main emphasis was not merely his deliverance from trouble. Whenever God does deliver us in answering prayers, we should remember to thank Him. This thanksgiving was what the apostle delighted in more than merely his deliverance. He wrote, “you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many” (2 Cor. 1:11).
Throughout our lives, whether we are in good times or difficult times, we should imitate this chief concern of Paul: that God would be glorified. Paul wrote in his earlier letter to Corinth, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). This is how Paul could be content whether he was suffering or abounding (Phil. 4:12).
This attitude did not originate with Paul; Jesus Christ is the ultimate example. Our Lord was the standard to which Paul endeavored to conform and to which we should as well. Jesus lived His entire life to glorify the Father. He prayed in John 17:4, “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” In John 12:23, Jesus referred to the time that had come when He would voluntarily go to the cross, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.” When Judas went out to betray Jesus, our Lord then said to the rest of the apostles: “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately” (John 13:31). His death on the cross was to the glory of God. The Father is God; Jesus the Son is God. Sacrifice and suffering were to the glory of God.
When we do good to others with a pure heart instead of wanting the praise of men, God is glorified (Mt. 5:16; 6:1-4). When we pray, we should give thanks to God for His greatness, not to show our own greatness (Mt. 6:5-13; Lk. 18:10-14). When we live the authentically as Christians, the result is thanks given to God. Notice what Paul said of the Thessalonians: “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, (1 Thess. 1:2, 3). Let us live each day so that thanks and glory will be given to God.