The Apostle Paul wrote that the normal Christian life is full of uncomfortableness. Every day modernity seeks evasive Garden of Eden lifestyles of bliss. Heaven will be that good! But here — not so much. Sin has destroyed that for us, for now. We should not be surprised by pain and sorrows.
As believers we have hope in Christ. What comes at us to discourage us – does not have to succeed. We are overcomers! Believing in Jesus gives us strength to overcome whatever comes our way. Life gets difficult for all of us. But nothing is too much to bear – when our hope is in Christ.
19 keeping your faith [leaning completely on God with absolute trust and confidence in His guidance] and having a good conscience; for some [people] have rejected [their moral compass] and have made a shipwreck of their faith. 20 Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be disciplined and taught not to blaspheme. – 1 Timothy 1:19
We are afflicted in every way
The Christian “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11 describes the lives of followers of God who lived by faith. It describes the horrors many went through – yet, in the midst of it all, stayed true to God. Some were outright delivered from dangers. Many others were not delivered – but rather, suffered through horrible depravation and torture. Whatever their experience — they all kept their eyes on God. Rather than choosing the easy way out and denying their faith, they kept their hope in God. How about you?
Difficulties are a normal experience in a fallen world. But that should not discourage us or cause us to doubt God. Paul experienced a whole lot of troubles (2 Corinthians 11:23-29), so he knows. And he stood strong. Paul wrote:
8 We are pressured in every way [hedged in], but not crushed; perplexed [unsure of finding a way out], but not driven to despair; 9 hunted down and persecuted, but not deserted [to stand alone]; struck down, but never destroyed – Verses 8-9 of 2 Corinthians 4:6-11
pressured …but not crushed;
perplexed [unsure of finding a way out] …but not driven to despair;
hunted down and persecuted …but not deserted [to stand alone];
struck down …but never destroyed – Verses 8-9 of 2 Corinthians 4:6-11
But we are not crushed. We are not driven to despair. We are not deserted to stand alone without God. We are never destroyed. 1
That is how Paul looked at life: we can be “afflicted in every way” – but we can never be destroyed (v9). We are conquerors!
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us].
…but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory [as conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ.
“For Your sake we are put to death all day long;
We are regarded as sheep for the slaughter.”
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us].
Like Jesus Himself said, “they” may kill you — but then what? After they kill your body, what more can they do to you? Nothing. They cannot do anything else to you!
– Matthew 10:28 Amplified Bible
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be afraid of Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
– Luke 12:4 Amplified Bible
“I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have nothing more that they can do.
That’s why I love the truth in Philippians: “for to me …to die is gain”. Is that true of you… “for to me…”?
21 For to me,
to live is Christ
[He is my source of joy,
my reason to live] and
to die is gain
[for I will be with Him in eternity].
– Philippians 1:21
As with the Apostle Paul, whatever our “lot in life”, we live it all “as servants of God“. “For to me, to live is Christ….” Everything else in life is subordinate. The nitty gritty of the Christian experience is that we are here to serve God. And we do this serving in a fallen world. We are not in heaven yet!
Satan is alive and well on this globe. So God keeps His angels busy! Angels most certainly do maintain a vigil over us at all times, all throughout our lifetime — so that Satan cannot thrwart God’s will for our life.
I personally know angels kept me from being killed. It was like an angel at my shoulder held me firmly from stepping into the path of an oncoming bus. I did not see the bus coming! My brain said, “Traffic went by, let’s move.” But I could not move. My angels watched over me. “It was not my time yet”, as they say.
But other times… “bad things” happen: accidents, our sins, disease, sickness, death, broken relationships, financial ruin, calamities. Sometimes it seems that the bad is always lurking around the corner! There are no guarantees in life – except death, the truth of God’s Word, and salvation in Christ. But thanks be to God that, for the believer, those who love Him – God works things out so that good comes out of the bad:
And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. – Romans 8:28
The “bad” will come. Count on it! Plan for it. Be ready for it.
Accepting Christ as your Savior does not mean you start living “an okiedokie silver spoon fairy tale give-it-to-me-God blessed with riches floating in air nanny-state charmed untouchableness“. Life gets-down and dirty at times. That is normal on this fallen planet. Sin happened and God threw Adam and Eve out of the perfect Garden of Eden. We are still outside the Garden.
Live it all “as servants of God” (v4)
And so Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 6:4-10:
4 but we commend ourselves in every way as servants of God:
in great endurance,
in sufferings, in hardships, in distresses, 5 in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in labors, in sleepless nights, in hunger,
6 in purity and sincerity, in knowledge and spiritual insight, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love,
7 in [speaking] the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand [like holding the sword to attack] and for the left [like holding the shield to defend],
8 amid glory and dishonor; by evil report and good report; branded as deceivers and yet [vindicated as] truthful; 9 as unknown [to the world], yet well-known [by God and His people];
as dying, yet we live; as punished, yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;
as poor, yet bestowing riches on many; as having nothing, yet possessing all things. – 2 Corinthians 6:4-10
Rich or poor, it is so easy to turn our eyes away from Jesus, away from faith in God. Jesus warned us about that. 2
37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me;
and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
38 And he who does not take his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me] is not worthy of Me.
39 Whoever finds his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death],
and whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake will find it [that is, life with Me for all eternity].
– Matthew 10:37-39
Something’s coming ’round the corner! Ready for it?
‘Do not fear [anything],
for I am with you;
Do not be afraid,
for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
be assured I will help you;
I will certainly take hold of you
with My righteous right hand
[a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].’
– Isaiah 41:10
In God have I put my trust
and confident reliance;
I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
– Psalm 56:11
Jesus said to the synagogue official,
“Do not be afraid;
only keep on believing
[in Me and my power].”
– Mark 5:36
“Do not let your heart be troubled
Believe [confidently] in God
and trust in Him,
[have faith, hold on to it, rely on it, keep going and]
believe also in Me.
– John 14:1
Peace I leave with you;
My [perfect] peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Do not let your heart be troubled,
nor let it be afraid.
[Let My perfect peace
calm you in every circumstance
and give you courage and strength
for every challenge.]
– John 14:27
One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision,
“Do not be afraid anymore,
but go on speaking
and do not be silent;
– Acts 18:9
Focus Passage: – 2 Corinthians 4:6-11
6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give us the Light of the knowledge of the glory and majesty of God [clearly revealed] in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this precious treasure [the good news about salvation] in [unworthy] earthen vessels [of human frailty], so that the grandeur and surpassing greatness of the power will be [shown to be] from God [His sufficiency] and not from ourselves. 8 We are pressured in every way [hedged in], but not crushed; perplexed [unsure of finding a way out], but not driven to despair; 9 hunted down and persecuted, but not deserted [to stand alone]; struck down, but never destroyed; 10 always carrying around in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be shown in our body. 11 For we who live are constantly [experiencing the threat of] being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be evidenced in our mortal body [which is subject to death].
- New American Standard Bible of 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed….”
- Biblegateway Footnotes
- Matthew 10:37 Commitment to Jesus takes precedence over all else.
- Matthew 10:38 The historical background behind this statement is that those who were about to be crucified had to carry the crossbeam to which they would be nailed or bound. In addition to the terrible agony that crucifixion inflicted, it was such a great indignity that some of the Roman writers used the word cross as a curse word in the expression “Go to a bad cross!” (Lat i in malam crucem).