The above (in inverted commas) is a quote from 2 Corinthians 1:9. It’s in the context of Paul feeling like death because the pressure had been so great for both him and those travelling with him (verses 8-9). Jesus went through the same thing when he too was reduced to “loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death,” Hebrews 5:7. And king David too when he talked about “walking through the valley of the shadow of death” in Psalm 23:4.
But in all three of these men’s lives the “death” they were begging rescue and relief from wasn’t physical death. Paul, for instance, was totally ready “to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13). And in one city, where he’d been dumped outside as if dead after being stoned, he went straight back in and carried on preaching (Acts 14:19-20). He even wanted “to become like Jesus in his death,” Philippians 3:10. Physical death, then, wasn’t what he, Jesus or David, feared or wanted escape from.
But what Paul also wanted to experience was “the power of Jesus’ resurrection” (Philippians 3:10). So when buffeted by “a messenger of Satan to torment me” in 2 Corinthians 12:7, he “boasted all the more gladly” about his “weaknesses,” because he’d discovered by then he would experience “Christ’s power resting on me,” verse 9 – and many times too, according to 2 Corinthians 1:10.
And this was the context in which Paul spoke about “God, who raises the dead” in the previous verse, verse 9. It was the experience of Christ’s power getting him through and out of “despairing even of life” and “feeling the sentence of death,” verses 8-9.
And this was Jesus’ experience too, because God heard his cries for help and by answering him every time taught Jesus the same lesson he taught Paul that, no matter how tough the suffering got, he could totally trust God to see him through (2 Corinthians 1:10 and Hebrews 5:7). And there was history to back it up too, because “In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed,” Psalm 22:4-5. They too, as Paul would phrase it, were “raised from the dead.”
David experienced it too, because in the depths of his despair at having disobeyed God so blatantly, to the point of begging God not to “cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me” in Psalm 51:11, he was lifted out of his misery, knowing God could “restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me,” verse 12. In other words, he trusted God to raise him from the dead too.
So, can this be our experience too?
A resounding “Yes” according to Ephesians 2, because we were all in the same boat of being “dead in our transgressions and sins,” verse 1, but “in God’s great love for us, he made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions,” verses 4-5, and “he raised us up with Christ (from our dead state) and seated us with him in the heavenly realms,” verse 6. So we’ve already been raised from the dead and are now experiencing being made alive, so that we can be “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,” verse 10.
And when are those good works being done? In this lifetime of ours right now, which is why we can say, and from our own experience too, “God who raises the dead – today and every day.”