These past two months have been challenging, disheartening, irritating, even frustrating. So many things that we took for granted changed almost overnight, and for weeks many of us scrambled to figure out how to manage during this time. At some point, patience wore thin and even the small annoyances became overwhelming. Demands changed in our lives and we were forced to refocus and alter plans or responsibilities.
For many, this has been overwhelming, and discouragement from loss of opportunities, rites of passage and celebrations has crept in. All the negative circumstances and emotions can become too much to bear.
However, there is hope, encouragement and a positive example found in the book of 2 Corinthians. Paul describes the terrible circumstances he faced and how he was able to manage, survive and thrive in the midst of those hardships.
“For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 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 4:7-9
Paul points out that the treasure he holds is the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even though his feeble and mortal body (jars of clay) will not last, the message of the gospel will never fail. There is continued reassurance that even though he faces pressure from all sides, he is not crushed. Even though he is perplexed, confused, and does not know the answer, there is no despair. Although he faces persecution, he knows that God has not abandoned him. When he is struck down, he is not destroyed, because God has sustained him with an all-surpassing power.
Paul did not need to rely upon his own strength, wisdom or abilities; rather, he put his hope and assurance in the gospel of Jesus Christ and the power of God. Our assurance is that none of these challenges were able to overwhelm Paul, and with our trust in the gospel, they will not overwhelm us. God guards and protects his children through our hardships. The passage is the clear representation of Christ followers overcoming this world through the fulfillment of Christ’s resurrection and promise of eternal hope.
As you pray this morning, thank God for the hope found in his Son, Jesus Christ, and for the all-surpassing power that sustains you through the most difficult of times. Remember to celebrate God’s faithfulness, and ask God for strength through these difficulties.