Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church. He is the author of two devotional books, “From a Chair by the Window.” And “#PrayerWinsThe Day”.
Posted on November 1, 2022 by Elizabeth Welte in Freedom Fighters
What do the injury that sidelined you, the illness that left you feeling useless in the hospital, the loss of a loved one, the betrayal by a friend, unemployment, and an eviction all have in common? They are all painful and tremendously impact our emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. The question asked by believers and atheists alike concerning this pain is, “Why, if God is so loving, does he let me hurt so much?” The atheist has no hope of gaining an answer because they have rejected the very person who can respond… And besides, their question is no question at all but an accusation by which to fuel their indifference. God does offer a response to those abiding in His Word and walking with Jesus; it’s found in Paul’s writing to the Corinthians. He begins in 2 Corinthians chapter 4 by stating believers have a treasure within us that God intends to reveal to the world; that treasure is the life of Jesus infused in our lives by the presence of the Spirit given to all who believe. That treasure is uncovered when “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (4:8-9 ESV). We are not crushed, perplexed, forsaken, or in despair because “we are continually sharing the death of Jesus in our bodies, by the presence of the Spirit, so that the resurrection life of Jesus will be revealed through our humanity” (v.10).
As ambassadors for our sovereign King, Jesus Christ, who sits on the throne of the believer’s heart, “we are constantly being handed over to the death of our willfulness by affliction, calamity, and illness, for Jesus’ sake; and this so the life of Jesus, the treasure within us, will be revealed through our human weakness. So, this death, our being crucified with Christ being played out through illness, affliction, and loss, is at work in us, just as His salvation work on the cross releases new life in others” (vs. 11-12).
As ambassadors of Jesus, “we have the same Spirit of faith described in the Scriptures when it says, ‘First I believed, then I spoke in faith.’ So we also first believe and then speak in faith. We do this because we are convinced that He (God the Father) who raised Jesus will raise us with Him, and together we will all be brought into His presence” (4:13-14).
I know this is tough to hear. Too often, we are sold the idea of a feel-good gospel that’s all ease and pleasure. But that is not what the Bible promotes; Jesus’ ministry was filled with episodes of rejection, hatred, and anger, climaxing with cruel beatings and standing alone to die a horrendous death on the cross. Peter, Steven, and Paul, as well as numerous believers throughout the centuries, have been killed in a similar manner. But it is Jesus’ brutal death on the cross that made our salvation possible, for without the shedding of His perfect blood, there is no forgiveness of sin. So, we do not lose heart since we have the same ministry as Jesus. Though we face sorrows and afflictions in our bodies, our souls are renewed daily through God’s word and striving with the Spirit. And like the cross, our light and momentary afflictions are preparing an eternal and momentous glory beyond all comparison for us. Consider carefully how Jesus faced such intense opposition from sinners so that you won’t become worn down and cave in under life’s pressures. After all, you have not yet reached the point of shedding blood in your opposition to sin as Jesus did (Heb 12:3-4 TPT). It is incumbent upon believers to “not look to the things of this world, but the things of Heaven. For the things that are seen here are transient, but the unseen things and of Heaven are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV).
If you are struggling with an illness, loss, change of job, relationship, or finances; if you are afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, or struck down, don’t lose heart! Instead of looking at the circumstances, ask God why He has led you there? Pray and ask Him to help you shine the Gospel light on who He is pursuing. Let Him make you the living water that nourishes the souls of those you would reach in no other manner. Instead of disappointment or frustration, ask God to make you the salt that changes the flavor of the problem for someone you would never have reached unless you were afflicted, persecuted, or struck down.
God never promised that this ministry He has called you to would be easy, but He has given you a treasure within! The very Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead now lives in you and intercedes before God on your behalf in accordance with His will. Because of the Spirit’s presence, you are victorious through Jesus. He loves you, and I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor messengers, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things about to be, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, can separate you from the love of God, that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:37-39).
Don’t give up! Don’t give in to the pressure, frustration, or despair; there is hope, and His name is Jesus! Let Him be seen in your life through whatever it takes to transform you and bring others a saving knowledge of the Gospel.
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone…” – Ephesians 2:19-20