If 2020 has taught us anything it’s that is how life is unpredictable. Yet, as followers of Jesus, we are built to handle this.
Resilience is built into the DNA of a follower of Jesus.
Resilient: capable of returning to an original shape or position, as after having been compressed.
In 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 we have a very transparent look at the life of a man or woman who has put their faith in Jesus Christ.
We are not promised an easy life. We have been promised eternal life.
The Bible explains that God has put eternity into our hearts, Ecclesiastes 3:11. We are born-again for a life greater than this world can provide.
Heaven is far greater in every way than life on earth.
- Heaven is a world without tears.
- A world without sin and death.
- A place where we will see Jesus face to face.
It’s this literal place that Jesus went away to prepare for us and is why we fight to endure the hardships in this life.
If we view faith as immunity from hardships, we may find it impossible not to abandon ship when we encounter difficulty.
Paul illustrates the life of a Christian as having a treasure in jars of clay.
- The treasure is the gospel message.
- Christians are the jars of clay.
This is an unusual pairing because earthen vessels were common pieces of pottery of little value and were not used to store anything of value.
This illustration left the original reader with the following understanding.
- It underscored their weakness.
- Emphasized their humility.
- Highlighted their expendability.
Why would God put something of great value in such a fragile vessel?
- As a fragile vessel, we are given immense value.
- He did this to show that the treasure has nothing to do with the pot, but “to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
Our humility and weakness are the platform for the power of God at work in our life. As people of faith, whenever we attempt to manage life in our own strength or wisdom, we end up with more problems than we started with.
If there is any guarantee in life, it’s that you will have difficulties. Jesus Himself warned that “In the world you will have tribulation…” John 16:33
Tribulation is like trouble on steroids.
Starting in verse 7, Paul a list of four hardships that will greet us in this life.
- He begins by saying, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed.”
That term afflicted comes from the Greek word, “thlibo” means to press together, compress.
Think of Times Square on New Year’s Eve. You’re being pressed together tightly.
But, Paul says, we are not crushed. You will feel the pressure and may even experience fracturing or chipping but you are not crushed.
- “We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.”
The word perplexed in the original language means “without resource, to doubt, hesitate, not knowing how to proceed.”
Think about it, we are dealing with a health crisis, a civil crisis, an economic crisis, a pending mental-health crisis, and it’s an election year. This is a perfect storm.
As a result, many are left not knowing how to proceed. Yet we serve a God who works out all things for the good to those who love Him and who are called according to His purposes, Romans 8:28.
- “We are persecuted, but not forsaken.”
The word persecuted means to pursue with repeated acts of hostility. Doesn’t this sum up what we are going through right now?
Each day when we wake up and turn on the news it feels like we are being pursued with repeated acts of hostility.
Just when we think we have a grip on everything, something new happens that sends us into a tailspin.
Persecution can also be more personal. The world has become intolerant to our faith as they accuse Christianity of intolerance.
Some of our persecution is self-induced, yet we live in a world that is growing hostile to Jesus Christ and those associated with Him.
You are not forsaken! Jesus promised to be with you to the end of the age.
4. Struck down but not destroyed.
“Struck down” means laid low by a blow or a weapon. Life will knock us down at times. Dealing with chronic illness or receiving unexpected news can be a major disappointment in life.
Being knocked down is not the end of your story.
For Paul, hardships do not disclose what humans are made of but what God’s power is like residing in us.
Every time you experience challenges, it is God’s surpassing power that keeps you together, lifts you back up, and is a testament to the power of God in you, as an earthen vessel.
You are resilient! You may not feel like it, but that’s because apart from God’s surpassing power, we are not.
You are built to endure every hardship life throws your way!
We will overcome!