We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 4:8,9
Strength to Endure
It was not easy being the apostle Paul. Wherever he went to tell other people about Jesus, he inevitably faced violent opposition. Repeatedly he was thrown in prison and people tried to kill him. From the Jewish authorities, he received thirty-nine lashes on five separate occasions. From the Romans, he received three beatings with rods. Forty men once vowed that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul. And on top of all this, he was shipwrecked three times, was constantly on the move, and often went without sleep or food. All this Paul suffered because he was a follower of Jesus. He most certainly was “hard pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted, struck down.”
Yet, even in all this suffering, Paul did not lose hope. It’s not that he expected God to relieve him of his suffering. No, he knew that as long as he remained on this earth, he would continue to be hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted, and even struck down. Yet, he knew that none of those sufferings would ever be able to completely defeat him. There was one who was crushed and abandoned for him and for all people. That one was Jesus, and in him, Paul held both ultimate victory over all his enemies and the strength to endure all his sufferings.
Jesus was his strength. Even when he became discouraged, Paul did not slide into despair. Jesus was his sure hope. In the midst of the most savage persecution, Paul knew that he would never be alone. Jesus had promised to be with him always. Even if his enemies succeeded in striking him down, Paul knew that he would not be destroyed. Jesus was his life, and in him, Paul would live forever.
When the pressure seems too much for you and you’re struggling to stand up under it, remember where your strength lies. It lies, not in you, but in Jesus who was crushed and abandoned for you. In him, you hold both ultimate victory over all your enemies and the strength to endure until he takes you to heaven.
Lord Jesus, uphold me with your strength so that in you I may always stand. Amen.