My wife and I were just considering a passage of Scripture today from 2 Corinthians 4:8-11:
“We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed – always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always being delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
I am aware that God has made promises to His children. God has promised many good things. AT TIMES we get to enjoy those things in this life. At other times, we don’t. God has never said, “I will fulfill my promises in your life when you want them done”. We may sow, but we only reap “in due season” and that only if we “do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9). The ministry and gift of encouragement is there to help us not lose heart – or if we have lost heart, to be encouraged once again.
Somehow many of us have bought into the idea that someone is a really successful Christian only if lots of people look up to them, if they enjoy a lot of luxuries and they seem to have all the answers. We have ministers who project the aura that nothing really ever goes wrong in their lives – and that by giving money to them you are going to have the same kind of life. It sounds good, but its not biblical.
Paul assured us that we are going to endure hard things as good soldiers of Christ. It says in 2 Timothy 2:3 “you therefore MUST endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ”.
The way Paul and Barnabas strengthened the converts in Turkey was to tell them “we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 13:22).
Paul told the Thessalonians whom he considered amongst his best followers:
“that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this“. For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened and you know”. (1 Thessalonians 3:3-4)
I can tell you from personal experience as one who has laid out his resources for the salvation of souls: you do not get an instant return from this kind of investment. In fact, you have to fight evil powers bent on messing with your mind and giving you bad ideas. I have experienced PERPLEXITY and LOSS in additions to seasons of things going very well. I have to remind myself that Jesus did not promise that things would always go well for us.
Paul experienced perplexity – that means he just didn’t know or understand what was going on in his life and ministry. That happens today to sincere spirit filled ministers of the gospel at times also. Don’t be intimidated by those who project an image of perfection. Television can be engineered to make you look better than you really are. I have started a TV channel, trust me, I know.
There are times we have set backs. God knows I have had a series of setbacks in 2006 and 2007. Yet we are not destroyed. We just have to keep going. God does send people to help you get the basics in life – essential needs. We also seek to work hard and do various jobs that we can do to earn money. God helps us out of our difficulties – slowly at times.
I am writing this to remind myself as much as my readers that as Christians we can and will face setbacks and perplexity. Paul the apostle faced a lot worse than financial loss (though he did face robbers). He was beaten bruised and scarred. He was betrayed by false brethren. He was criticised by his own spiritual children who unfavourably compared him to “super apostles” who had come into their midst (see 2 Corinthians for more).
If you are a true servant of God you will definitely have your detractors. We are living for the praise of God. The praise of man does not satisfy anyway. Not for a true servant of God.
If you are going through tough times remember that they won’t last forever. Circumstances are subject to change, whether they be favourable or negative. The Word of God does not change. Its promises reveal to us what we can expect if we keep our eyes and faith on them.
And if you are going through tough times do not despair or think of yourself as inferior. We all stumble in many ways. The one who is without chastening and discipline from the Lord is not a true child of God anyway.