(Why Believers Can Be Courageous and Even Joyful in the Midst of Difficulty)
All of us face some measure of suffering in this life. It could be a physical challenge, a hard ministry task, an overwhelming and perplexing difficulty, a persecution for our faith, a deep burden, or simply the rigors of living a life of determined godliness.
For some, this suffering is more intense. Paul was one of those who faced grave suffering in order to complete the task of the gospel that was entrusted to him. Yet, he was able to face it with courage and even joy. How?
It was because, as a believer in Christ, he knew, believed, and experienced some things in his suffering. Truths that change everything. Truths that place any measure and any type of suffering in their proper perspective. Truths that not only carry us through difficulty but make us more than conquerors in our struggles.
Notice how he lists these in 2 Corinthians 4–5. Paul said, “I know that …”
- My “dying” is so that the LIFE of Jesus can be manifested in my body (4:10).
- Death is working in me, but this brings spiritual life to others (4:11-12).
- God’s resurrection power will one day soon resurrect me (4:13-14).
- Because of my suffering, God’s grace is spreading to more and more people (4:15).
- Because more people are receiving God’s grace, more giving of thanks is abounding to God, and He is more glorified (4:15).
- Even though my outer man is decaying, my inner man is growing, being renewed every single day. Nothing can keep me from spiritual growth. In fact, suffering accelerates my growth (4:16).
- This momentary light affliction is producing something for me: an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison (4:17).
- I’m not looking at this momentary, temporal life, which I can see, but at my future life which is eternal, which I cannot yet physically see, but is real and coming soon! (4:18).
- Even though this earthly tent is being destroyed, I have a building being handmade for me by God Himself, which is eternal and indestructible (5:1).
- God has given me a down payment to remind me of my future inheritance. And that down payment is nothing less than His Spirit living in me (5:5).
- In the future, there will be a great reward for faithfulness (5:10).
In summary, we can have courage and rejoice in suffering and sacrifice because …
- Suffering has a glorious purpose for us, for others, and for God’s glory.
- Suffering is always accompanied by God’s absolute sufficiency.
- Suffering produces something unique and extraordinary in us (which is experienced in no other way).
- Suffering is always momentary and temporal.
- Suffering is eternally rewarded by the One who suffered the most.
We would think that such courage and joy is merely some pastor’s embellished rhetoric, had we not seen it modeled in millions of humble believers through the ages. Their suffering and undeniable courage and joy is an irrefutable testimony of the reality of these truths.