Has God ever told you to do something big, and then as you moved ahead to do it, opposition rose up? Some people take this as a sign that they have heard wrong, made a mistake, or just become warn out from pushing ahead. Scripture actually tells us that we will find ourselves in rough spots. There are no promises of smooth sailing, day after day, for a lifetime
First, I want to go back exactly 30 years to a much simpler time. After college I took a summer job as an nanny because it provided housing and income. I was certain that God was leading me to go to graduate school that fall. I was accepted to the my dream program, but when I did the math, I knew that it wouldn’t happen. This was before the days when I would have pushed through, despite what I saw in the natural. Back then the “natural” said “not enough saved” so I resorted to plan B.
Plan B was to work double shifts in a new job that I took, my actual home too far away to travel home, sleep and return to my place of employment in a mere 8 hours between shifts. I was a bit of a vagrant, sacking out in my friend’s parents’ guest bed and accepting their nourishing offering of toast and chamomile tea, then a solemn prayer of blessing as I rushed back to work another 16 hours straight. I had no commitments other than making bank deposits and occasional pizza with friends on a rare night off.
The rain came down steady, giving all metal and tarmac a glossy sheen.
All at once, we were jerked forward and the music stopped as my windshield became a silver, chaotic web. My seatbelt restrained me, but my friend hit the windshield, her seatbelt unfastened to make her sleep more comfortable. The car in front of ours had come to a dead stop suddenly because a car had cut in ahead of him. The offending car had escaped the accident. Miraculously, my friend’s pillow had taken the glass and it was some time before I realized my back had been injured due to whiplash. We were relatively well, considering the totaled car.
I was terrified to drive, so I banked the insurance money from the car and bought an expensive last-minute plane ticket to my new city. I called every few hours because the news said flights were being cancelled. The rain hadn’t stopped, and flooding had become a problem in many areas. My flight happened. I arrived in my new city where a friend’s big brother greeted me at the airport where the rain, spanning several states, still poured. I had shipped my every earthly possession in two big boxes and had two suitcases with which I traveled. Those were lost in the maze of redirected and canceled flights.
My friend’s brother carried my suitcases as we located the house number and knocked on the door of my new home, a room that I would be renting in this benevolent family’s basement. The owners greeted me, but I must have misunderstood, they said, because the painters were working in it. Sorry, they didn’t have a place I could stay. Please come back in a few days.
I was feeling swept away, as in an uncontrolled current, being taken places I never planned to go.
I don’t remember how I got to classes, but my new friend probably chauffeured me because I was staying a half hour away. He agreed to pick me up at the airport and got more than he offered. For those first weeks he juggled his commitments with his kind support, transporting and reassuring me for a short season, without a complaint. I smile when I see his many published books and all that he is doing for God. He once took care of me when I needed it desperately. He started small in his service to God, but he’s serving God big time and it’s awesome to see.
My boxes had been delayed because the flooding had extended across states. My possessions were in a puddle in a warehouse, somewhere. No FedEx tracking online back then. The boxes didn’t arrive for weeks. Those weeks in my little room were sparse. I had my purse, my carryon and my textbooks. I walked and bought food to zap in my mini microwave each day and hand washed my one outfit. Department stores weren’t in walking distance.
The question was “How did you come to be here today?”
There are two ways of looking at this whole, excruciating transition time. Some would say I went through a lot. Others would say I made it, despite all that I went though. Going back to the 2 Corinthians verses, they applied;
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
Scripture says we are;
hard pressed- thlibó (thlee'-bo)
to be made narrow by pressure, persecuted, pressed hard upon
perplexed- apogee (ap-or-eh'-o)
in difficulties, at your wit’s end, at a loss, perplexed; in doubt.
persecuted- diókó (dee-o'-ko)
pursued, hence persecuted
struck down- kataballó (kat-ab-al'-lo)
cast, lain down, of a foundation, prostrated
Taken as a group, these words validate that we Christians can seem pretty beaten up at times. We are opposed, especially when we are about Kingdom business. As we move ahead, we may encounter pressure against us, even to the point of being persecuted. I love that “at our wit’s end” is on the list describing the word perplexed. Some people may think it’s unspiritual to admit reaching their “wits end,” that God wouldn’t be that harsh. The truth is, life can be harsh.
But like the Greek describes, I was at the bottom, with very little.
The flip side of this baptism by fire was the cool rain of a fresh, clean start. These are the things that 2 Corinthians promises we aren’t. Paul says;
“BUT…we are not;"
crushed- stenochóreó (sten-okh-o-reh'-o)
pressed upon, cramped, restrained, kept in a tight place
in despair- exaporeó (ex-ap-or-eh'-om-ahee)
utterly without resource, in despair
abandoned- egkataleipó (eng-kat-al-i'-po)
abandoned, deserted, left in the lurch, in straits
destroyed- apollumi (ap-ol'-loo-mee)
destroyed, having lost, perishing (even certain death), killed
These words describe our ultimate victory. We aren’t crushed and restrained, because Jesus gives us freedom! Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Circumstances can’t restrain us, because our freedom is spiritual, eternal and paid for, once and for all.
I didn’t despair because I didn’t hit any dead ends. God made a way, as hard as it was.
Neither was I destroyed. God doesn’t destroy. The enemy does. John 10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” I walked away from a car accident; I lived, and I did not die.
I was utterly dependent on God, that can’t be denied. The verse before 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) Our momentary and temporary situations leave us vulnerable, no matter what we try to do in our own strength. This allows the demonstration of God’s all-surpassing power that is not from us. This is a humbling truth.
Transitions can be brutal, but God’s promises assure us that we’ll get through to the good things that He has planned for us.
You may feel hard pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted and/or struck down, but you are NOT crushed, in despair, abandoned, or destroyed! The verses after these in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 are verses 10-12;
“We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”
It is absolutely all about Jesus! We go through these things so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our mortal body. When we feel we can’t handle what is on our plates, when we hit roadblocks, when we are too tired to go on ourselves, we submit to Him. That’s when we see His power and his life is at work in you. When we think we did it all, we are deceived. When He carries us, we are sure we didn’t. It’s a good place to be. That’s the most fertile ground for His promises to flourish in your life!