Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who live are always given over to death because of Jesus, so that Jesus’ life may also be revealed in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you. (2 Corinthians 4:8-12 HCSB)
“The side effects are awful, and we’re not sure the chemo is even working.”
“Looks like I’m furloughed from work again and not sure I can pay my son’s college tuition.”
Each day we hear those, or similar sentiments spoken by friends and family. The pandemic has exaggerated real struggles as we face isolation, discouragement, and uncertainty.
Hard Pressed on Every Side
The apostle Paul, called by God to spread the Gospel, wrote to the Corinthians describing his relentless struggles, “We are hard pressed on every side.”
That’s the way my friends felt in their challenges as if life were closing in.
Paul went on to say, not only was he pressured, but also “perplexed”. Another friend said the same, wondering what course of action to take next, as she lamented, “Our son is struggling with peer pressure and making poor choices. We’ve prayed, but don’t even know how to handle this.”
And then came another prayer request in my email–difficulty finding a job, after their termination which wasn’t fair, echoing to a degree, Paul’s experience of persecution.
And then, the unanswered prayers of many, who like Paul, feel struck down.
Hope For When We Struggle
Despite real challenges, disappointments, and struggles, Paul offers hope as he acknowledges suffering. “BUT” he says…
We are hard pressed on every side—yes real troubles coming from all directions, but not crushed.
Perplexed—no clear path or course of action or solution in sight, but no cause for despair.
Persecuted—unjustified personal attacks but not abandoned or left alone…
Struck down—a blow that knocks us down, not out, but we’re not destroyed.
Our enemy pursues us: “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, (1 Peter 5:8 NIV) seeking to discourage us. But in our challenges, when we feel life is falling apart, we can like Paul “resist the enemy, standing firm in the faith, (1 Peter 5:9 NIV) so that “the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”
Hard places are real at any age and in every life season. They hurt and demoralize us. We don’t deny them. But life-giving truth in God’s word is real too. It’s a treasure of hope. We are offered grace to get through, strength to persevere, and we are never alone (Hebrews 13:5). Our trouble does not have the final say; we can live hopeful in God’s promises until He calls us home.