It’s inevitable that during our journey of faith that we will face set backs, trials, disappointments. Perhaps you are facing a “storm” of difficulties in your family, relationships, career, or finances. We don’t know the reality of our faith until our faith is under “fire” being tested. Jesus made it clear to the disciples that they/we will face opposition and persecutions. He reminds us that we will face tribulations in our lives on this fallen world. Paul taught in all of his writings that we as Christians will face difficulties. Any teaching that reduces Christianity to an “easy” believe-ism or source of material prosperity is false. Jesus calls us to forsake all to follow Him! Following Jesus is costly as we must die to self daily and place His call before our own lives/ideas and desires. God’s purpose for our lives is for us to become more like Christ and less like our old selves!
How to Endure and Press Ahead
Paul encourages us during our storms of faith in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 and 5:1-20. Paul explains the difficulties he and fellow laborers are enduring for the sake of the Gospel. They are facing severe persecution, death, and suffering while proclaiming that Jesus is the Christ/Messiah. It would have been safe and convenient to stay silent. Yet, Paul realizes that he can’t be silent knowing that Jesus has profoundly changed his life v6. Paul had “seen the light” and was forever changed! When God touches your life you don’t stay the same! When God comes into our lives we are profoundly changed! Jesus doesn’t make us into good people, He makes us new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17-18). God then appoints us as ambassadors [5:18-20]. We have a new nature and mission! Paul also reminds us that “we were bought with a price” therefore, we don’t belong to ourselves!
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 and 5:1-20 encourages us to consider the following:
- Even though our “outer bodies” are decaying, our inner beings are being daily renewed in Christ.
- Our present “afflictions” are light compared to the “eternal weight of glory”. Our eternal life with Christ is worth all that we will have to suffer/endure. Think about living 80 years–that’s insignificant compared to eternity!
- Focus on the things not seen, the eternal things. It’s easy to get discouraged and near sighted when we focus on our circumstances instead of what God has done for us in Christ.
- God has given us Holy Spirit as a “pledge” or sign that we will be resurrected!
- We are to walk by faith and not by sight in order to please our Heavenly Father.
- We will all face the Judgment of Christ–so it’s vital that we live accordingly.
- God makes us “new creatures.” We are born again and born again from above! God gives us His Son and renews our fallen nature.
- God graciously gives us the “ministry of reconciliation” when Jesus became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in Jesus.
As I write these words to you, I want to remind you that no one (including myself) is exempt from the trials and tests of life. It is a serious error to minimize and try to explain away our sorrows. Sometimes all that we can do is hold onto God and cry out to Him when things seem unbearable. The numerous cries of lament in the Word of God encourage us to be honest before God! God knows all things and He is certainly aware of what’s going on in our lives. Denial doesn’t lead to healing and spiritual growth!
I have learned [from personal experience] that difficulties can deepen my faith, increase my love for God and others, as well as encourage me to be more kind, compassionate, and understanding of others. Difficulties can also cause a person to become bitter, resentful, and selfish when the focus remains on self. God created the church for us believers to fellowship and walk together! We need to share our sorrows with others and carry other’s sorrows too.
We all have been treated unfairly, suffered loss, and daily struggle in different ways. The one thing that we have in common with everyone else is that we all have sorrows. May God grant us the wisdom and courage to look up to Him and find peace! May God give us open hearts to discern the hurts of others, walk graciously, and kind words to lift others up!
In Christ alone I stand,