IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES.
TOPIC: AFFLICTED BUT NOT CRUSHED, STRUCK DOWN BUT NOT DESTROYED.
Rev. Innocent Peace-Udochukwu
President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed”
(2 Corinthians 4:8–9).
I’m been thinking lately about the fragility of life. Maybe it’s because of the death of Pastor Dare ADEBOYE, Prophet TB Joshua, and other notable men of God, the unmitigated killings and bloodshed going on in almost every part of our dear country mostly targeted at Christians in Nigeria, the demonic body languages of those in the leadership position of the country, the arrogance, nepotism, insensitivities and unintelligent approaches to the issue of governance which are all mind boggling.
On the one hand we are bullied both by the painful realities of this cursed existence and by the peculiar trials of following in the footsteps of the crucified One: “We are afflicted in every way, …perplexed, …persecuted, …struck down.”
And yet on the other hand, we are buoyed by the power of the Spirit who works in our hearts, so that in spite of the pressing weight of the trials “we are…not crushed, …not despairing, …not forsaken, …not destroyed.”
The Christian life is lived in the constant interplay between these two realities: bullied, but also buoyed.
Bullied by the world, by the devil, by the curse, by our own weakness.
And yet in spite of what you would expect, we stay afloat.
How can this be? What keeps these people going? What gives them hope in the midst of suffering? It is the truth of God and the power of God which buoy us.
In the midst of the agonies, we know that there is a God who watches over us, who is our Helper, who ordained the trials for our benefit, and who promises He will never leave us or forsake us.
“Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ (Is.41:10)
Romans 8:31 If God is for us, who can be against us?
2Corinthians 4:8a “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed;”
Have you ever felt like such a failure that any direction you’d turn you’d still feel trapped? Guess what? It’s not as bad as it looks. Often when faced with overwhelming difficulty we feel like we’re in a dead end, but truth is that no one is ever out of moves. Even a dead end still has one way out – the way you came in through.
In times of overwhelming difficulty, we can look to the promise given in 2 Corinthians 4:8-10: “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.
What does it mean to be “struck down, but not destroyed” and why is important to hold on to such a promise? The Bible is filled with stories of people who were struck down but not destroyed at many points of their walk with God. I am reminded of Joseph who was “struck down” multiple times – when he was sold to slavery, when he was sent to jail for a crime he did not commit and when the cupbearer he had helped forgot about him. I am reminded of Moses who was “struck down” by Pharaoh multiple times and was stuck in a dead end at the Red Sea.
When we are hit hard and knocked to the ground, it feels as if our strength is gone. The bruises of hurt, heartache, and pain keep us pinned. As in Creed, the enemy celebrates, thinking it’s over. But the Lord is faithful. He has given us powerful truths to hold onto when we are down — truths that help us get up, again.
“He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ” (Romans 8:39). God himself will perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish us after we’ve suffered for a little while (1 Peter 5:10). Even this — being hit so hard that we are knocked to the ground — will work together for good (Romans 8:28).
We remember that Jesus was once down, crucified, and buried and, for a time, the enemy surely rejoiced. But Jesus rose on the third day, and the same power that raised him from the dead is at work in us who believe. We get up because we’ve been graciously given eternal life, and what we endure in this life cannot compare to the glory to come (2 Corinthians 4:17).
We never stand alone, toe-to-toe with the enemy, in our battles. Our God, mighty in power, fights for us. Shod in his armor, we stand firm. And even if we’re knocked down, the truth is that he is upholding us with his hand (Psalm 37:24).
We may be struck down many times, but we will never be destroyed because Jesus’ body was destroyed once and for all for all our iniquities. When Jesus took to the cross the sin of all mankind, He nailed upon Himself every consequence as well – every trial, every pain, every challenge. That’s not to say that we won’t experience problems anymore, but it does assure that these afflictions we face have been made extremely lighter because of Jesus’ finished work. Psalm 34:19 says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.”
Do you feel struck down today? Hold on to the promise and truth that you are not destroyed. You are not stuck in a dead end. Even when we are out of strength and strategy, Jesus will make a way for us to experience liberation from these momentary afflictions.
We are “persecuted, but not abandoned” (v. 9a).
The Greek word translated “persecuted” means “to pursue,” as a hunter pursues his game. The word conjures up movie scenes where the hero knows he’s being followed wherever he goes, but he can’t quite see his enemies. They’re out there, he knows they’re after him. When will they strike next?
Paul knew about this from personal experience. Everywhere he went his Jewish opponents followed him. They stayed on his trail, attacking his character, maligning his preaching, mocking his message, and stirring up opposition inside and outside the church. They never gave him a moment’s rest. That’s why the NLT translates this as “We are hunted down.” That’s how he felt, like an animal fleeing through the underbrush with the hounds hot on his trail.
We are not abandoned by God.
We are not deserted and left to stand alone.
We are never abandoned to our fate.
I love the nitty-gritty realism of this passage.
Are we under pressure? Yes!
Do we get confused sometimes? Yes!
Do we face harsh criticism? Yes!
Are we knocked down sometimes? Yes!
That’s life, that’s reality, that’s the truth for every follower of Jesus. If you thought anything different, you better go back to the recruiting office and have a chat with whoever signed you up because being a Christian doesn’t mean getting a free pass through life. Far from it.
Christ offers victory through trouble not victory apart from trouble.
Run to the cross!
Run to the cross and lay hold of Jesus Christ who loved you and gave himself for you. Trust him completely as your Lord and Savior.
And for all who do know him, rest in this truth. Whether we live or whether we die, no matter what happens tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, we need not be afraid.
If we know Jesus, we’re in great shape today, tomorrow and forever. Amen.
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