But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
Those of you who knew what passage this was going to be about- this one is for you. Do you feel these things, afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, struck down? What about crushed, despairing, forsaken, destroyed?
Many of us have been there, some live there! Truly, no one wants to stay there for long. In fact, when we hang out in either of those places a little too long serious discouragement and even depressive feelings can set in. When the dawn seems a little too long in coming and your hope is just about done in that there can ever be an answer to what ever problem you face is when we tend to use words like these to describe ourselves.
There are people among us who live in a world of difficulty and hurt. They have been rejected and refused and are awash with pain and fear. Many simply don't know where to turn anymore and want to give up. To hand platitudes to someone in such a predicament is cruel, and I don't suggest you do so.
What they need is hope, that wonderful 4 letter word, H O P E. They need to hear that it is all going to be worth it someday. They need to hear that someone loves them and cares enough about them to stop and listen to their plight. Often these folks have had all the advice they can stomach, and they have already tried or done everything there is to do. What they may need most is hope.
Offer them the biblical purpose for trials and hardships, troubles and suffering. All of it is for the purpose of conforming us to the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. Our struggles draw us near to Him, they force us to call out to Him in prayer and petition. They can be the only method that works to cause some of us to run to Jesus, we are entirely too self-sufficient.
In times such as these our eternal perspective is all we can truly focus on if we desire to respond biblically. Like you, I wonder what God is accomplishing by my trials and by allowing me to be brought so low. I know I have been in this kind of a place before...this time it is deeper and different. God allows us to experience all kinds of trials on ever deeper levels to round out our character and to give us the ability to minister to others in their time of need.
I daresay that many of the trials and hardships I have endured have been for your benefit! Were it not for them and for what I learned through them and in the midst of them I would not be as effective in this ministry!
So when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your benefit and salvation! For when God comforts us, it is so that we, in turn, can be an encouragement to you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 2 Corinthians 1:6 (NLT)
We carry His death, which is our victory inside ourselves! We carry His sacrifice, His righteousness, and His justification within us every moment of the day. That is such good news! The reality of those truths can fill a sorrowful heart with joy.