Perplexed…but not despairing

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”  2 Corinthians 4:8-10

Sometimes the situations in life that we find ourselves in are just plain hard.  It can be hard to endure through a trial in life.  It can be hard to persevere in the midst of extreme pressures in life.  It can be hard to stand firm when the seas are raging and the waves are buffeting us.  It can be hard to suffer for the sake of Christ Jesus.

Affliction is just plain hard.

In 2 Corinthians 4:8b Paul writes that “We areperplexed, but not driven to despair“.  In the midst of afflictions Paul was perplexed at times.  Perhaps there was doubt.  Perhaps there was a lack of understanding as to why things were going the way they were.  Maybe he realized that he was just unable to fix the problem on his own and wasn’t sure what to do.  Despite being perplexed, he never lost hope…he didn’t despair.  Have you ever been there?  Have you ever been at the end of yourself with no idea what to do next…no idea how to get out of the affliction?  Have you ever found yourself buried by the difficulties in life, the physical, emotional, mental struggles with the things that seem to bring you to a point of near hopelessness?

Now come on, if there was ever a persecuted Christian that could be driven to despair it was Paul.  If there was ever a person that could throw up the white flag and say enough with the beatings and scourging and prison time, it was Paul.  But no, Paul wasn’t driven to despair.  Rather than despair, in the midst of the afflictions, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down, he carried on…he persevered…and he did so in order that Christ could be magnified.   He persevered through it all by carrying with him the memory, the example, of the suffering death of Jesus.  He endured by holding fast to that knowledge, so that in his own afflictions he might manifest Christ to others.

Are afflictions hard? Yes, absolutely. Are we perplexed by them sometimes? Of course! Do we sometimes feel like we are at the edge of despair? If we are honest with ourselves, yes. But as Paul wrote, we are to be remembering the sacrificial affliction of Jesus “…so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”  In our times of affliction we must live with the awareness of the suffering death of Christ, so that through our “momentary afflictions” we too might manifest the sacrificial love and righteous life of Jesus.

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