We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. -- 2Corinthians 4: 8-9 (NLT)
"Blessed and highly favored" is the resounding answer when Christians are asked the commonplace nicety of "how are you doing?" We are blessed by God and we are most certainly highly favored but that often is a covering for the real day to day answer. The truth is that most Christians are more afraid of other Christians finding out how they are doing than anything else. Too much judgment and criticism is given when love and edification is necessary. The cold hard reality is that we bleed just like everyone else. We suffer in pain just like everyone else. We can feel sad and hear from well-intended brethren that no one with the Holy Spirit should feel sad! Tell that to Joseph! Do you honestly think that he was dancing for 13 years in prison? What about Elijah who was so despondent that he asked God to end his life? So we strap on our best church masks and shuffle off to the sanctuary, the one place we should feel the freest to be honest, and pretend that nothing is wrong. That everything is just fine. That we are simply blessed and highly favored.
While we certainly go through what every human being goes through, there is supposed to be benefits from walking with the Lord. Sadness need not drift into what the world classifies as depression. Confusion need not drift into giving up on life. God recognizes the realities of living in this fallen world but reassures us that while we may have symptoms from time to time -- we do not have to develop the condition. Because our position in Christ should always outweigh the condition the world would like to sell us on. We are bombarded on television with advertisements for depression medications, anxiety medications, and medications to deal with the side effects of those medications. We live in a society that encourages talking about problems for years and years instead of conquering them. A society that tries to teach us how to cope, that is how to live with, our problems instead of overcoming them. I do not know where this writing finds you today. It found me in a place of uncertainty when God spoke it to me. It found me in a place of profound sadness when God had me write it. It found me in a place of great solitude when God brought me to the key verses above.
These two verses from Paul's second letter to the Church at
Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, "A vast
army is coming against you from
Surely the king felt pressed on all sides; as if the world was coming against him. The promise however from God is that though we may feel pressed we are in fact not crushed. Pressed is a sense of pressure but crushed is a giving in to that pressure. Of wallowing in the pressure. Of trying to then resolve or escape that pressure through our own means. Jehoshaphat did not do that here. In his flesh he could have sought the advice of his military experts. He could have tried to go make a peace treaty with the approaching enemies. He could have evacuated and ran for the hills. Instead, he called for a fast and inquired of the Lord. After that -- he prayed:
"O Lord, God of our fathers,
are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the
nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. O our God, did you
not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people
Take a good look at this prayer and we see the ingredients for petitioning the Lord during our distress. It is bathed in humility. It recognizes the sovereignty of God. It reminds God of His promises. It admits that there is no natural answer for us so we merely fix our eyes upon our supernatural God. That is how we remain uncrushed during times of great stress. We try not to solve the problems within our own logic and strength but rather turn to our God and fix our eyes upon Him. The enemy here never stood a chance against God. Jehoshaphat was delivered and that same deliverance is available to all who seek Him today as well. Pressured? Absolutely! Crushed? Not as long as there is a God in heaven I can turn to!
Secondly, Paul says that we are perplexed, or confused. How many of us can raise our hands to that one! This world embraces the polar opposite of what God teaches. Our flesh runs in the opposite direction from thus sayeth the Lord. The enemy is constantly mixing a little truth with a lot of leaven to get us off our game. To get us to compromise what God has already said. Is it any wonder that sometimes the end result is confusion? Have you ever come to the place where you feel that no matter what decision you make it will be the wrong decision? Are we seeking out the solutions of this world at that point? Are we seeking out the opinions of man? Is it any wonder then that the confusion only deepens? At the heart of the confusion are discrepancies between the will of the world and the will of God. Between our flesh and our Spirit. Between the whispering of the enemy and the teachings of God. What does the Bible tell us regarding finding God's will for us?