Through the cracks
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
These verses, about what life throws at us, immediately follow those other, more well-known verses about “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” that indwells us like treasure in a jar of clay. But it is no mistake that these verses are right next to each other, nor is it a change of subject. If Christ is in these fragile vessels, and He is our light, and our message to the world, it only follows that life would crack these vessels so that the light could be seen in us. And like the treasure contrasts the clay pot, so the worst that life can throw us contrasts the presence of God inside.
Here’s the important thing about this: It is not God’s will to steer us over, around or under the difficulties of life; it is His will to accompany us through them.
Look at these four things and think about your life. Is any of this going on in you right now?
For me, I’m definitely feeling the pressure from many sides at once; I’m perplexed about many things and unsure of what to do; I’m not sure about being persecuted unless that means being misunderstood or falsely accused, so I guess, that, too, which leaves only being struck down — that really doesn’t apply to me … yet. So three out of four? Do I get something for that?
Yes, I do, in fact. I get the opportunity to discover the indwelling life and power of the Holy Spirit to be equal to — no, greater than — any of these things. And in that, I, and everyone around me, discover that it’s not me, but the Lord, who enables me to continue to be an active participant in life.
And that’s the key here, isn’t it? Being an active participant in life. That’s the new covenant ministry. Move On It.
I’ll be honest; as I write these things, and read what I write, it looks like I know what I’m talking about — that I’m in the middle of my own struggles and the Lord is holding me up. Not really. I’m writing this because I know it’s the truth, but I can’t say that it’s exactly working for me right now.
I know what it’s like to not want to get out of bed because of what you know is waiting for you when you do. But remember this (and this part I’m saying totally by faith, not as something I’ve grasped, but something I need as much as some of you might right now): the indwelling life of the Spirit of God is also waiting to meet us. We won’t know that for sure until we get up and get there, but that’s where the faith comes in.
We can’t just pull out of the game when bad things happen. We can’t check out of life and wait for things to get better, because a big part of the ministry we’ve been given is to discover the Spirit of God in the middle of life’s pressures. That’s why these verses are here. When our little ship gets buffeted by the storm, that’s when it gets to show itself seaworthy.
So come on, let’s go. God is going to bring us through and bring Himself glory through it and bring us joy unspeakable. I believe that. I don’t see it, but I believe it … Lord, help my unbelief.
Day 19 Challenge
1. What is your reaction to this news – that it takes our weaknesses to have His strength? I, personally, do not like it. Don’t get me wrong, I want to see the power of God in my life. Yet, I want the power to come out of an untroubled, peaceful, calm life. I want to move through life protected from danger and difficulties. What about you?
2. Would you describe the Christian life as one where we are “hard pressed,” and “perplexed,” and “persecuted,” and “struck down, but not out?”
3. Do you think we have any choice in the matter? Can we choose which afflictions we are willing to go through and what ones we would rather not? Or do you think we get what God sends; whatever He wills is what we have to go through?
4. Is Paul is saying that we are not protected from life? Let’s see …Can Christians get cancer? Can Christians have financial collapse? Can Christians go through difficulties, family separations, divorce; problems of every sort?
5. If your walk with the Lord is better than mine, will you experience fewer difficulties? Why?
6. Yet, do you know Christians who are afflicted and crushed; have perplexities that drive them to despair; are persecuted; feel abandoned; are knocked down and often are knocked out for weeks or years at a time? Paul will answer this question in Verses 10-11. (Stay tuned for Day 20 of our 21-Day Challenge)
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