I want to encourage you today. I’d like to think it’s because I’m such an encouraging guy but as I sit here in Illinois, the weather a crisp 62° and me still basking in the glow of a Chiefs victory, I wonder how even the most disgruntled person could be, well, disgruntled. Especially when the Chiefs win was watched five rows up on the 20-yardline inside of Arrowhead Stadium.
But even without all of that I’m not disgruntled so let’s get on with the encouragement. I actually gave this message on VIM last week and it’s still heavy on my heart. It comes from 2 Cor. 4 when Paul is talking about being hard pressed but never destroyed. Here’s an excerpt:
“We are pressured in every way [hedged in], but not crushed; perplexed [unsure of finding a way out], but not driven to despair; hunted down and persecuted, but not deserted [to stand alone]; struck down, but never destroyed; always carrying around in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be shown in our body.” – 2 Cor. 4:8-10 (AMP)
Many of us can relate to Paul’s words here. Especially the part about being pressured, confused, struck down, and so on. Different seasons come with various struggles and sometimes we just want to throw our hands up because we’ve been running in circles.
So often the negative impact is all we focus on, the hurts and pains coming from every which way steal our attention, making us believe despair is all there is. But the important thing to realize is that the destructive elements aren’t where Paul lands. He just uses them as a segue to what’s really important.
Darkness always tries to steal the spotlight of everyday life. It’s perpetually trying to blind us to the truth of Paul’s teaching. The teaching that lets us know that when we’re pressured we’re not crushed under the weight. When we don’t know which way to go, it doesn’t mean we have to curl into the fetal position. When others victimize us, we don’t have to believe we’re alone. We are sometimes struck down but never destroyed.
That’s a great song, by the way. One that I’m singing in my head right now. But I digress.
The point in all of this is that death and darkness don’t have to get the attention. We are one with Christ and that means we are in perfect union with all of the abundance that he is! The trauma and tragedy don’t get to have the final say. We are not overcome rather we are overcomers.
Paul says in verse 10 that they are always carrying around the death of Jesus in their body SO THAT the resurrection LIFE of Jesus may also be shown in their body. The audience of Paul’s day needed this kind of encouragement just like we do today. It’s not about the bad things that swim around this world. It’s about the resurrection of Jesus that overcame it all and connected us to LIFE forever.
I don’t want to minimize or trivialize the struggles that we go through. In the trials are real pain and significant heart ache. But may we never accept that’s all there is. Somehow we need to find the strength to lift our heads and find the eyes of Jesus, the ones swimming in love and hope, the flames that flicker with LIFE and abundance. The kinds of things that help us understand that we can be pressed but not crushed, persecuted not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed. We are blessed beyond the curse and his promise will endure. And his Joy is gonna be our…what? You got it!
Jesse and Kara Birkey