We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed . . . (2 Corinthians 4:8)
I want to devote the next four articles to unpacking this powerful passage from the inspired pen of the apostle Paul; I feel sure that these words from Paul’s letter to the Christians at Corinth will be a source of great encouragement to you as we continue to walk through this global pandemic with the resilience of the redeemed.
I define the word resilience very simply: Resilience lives according to the truth of Proverbs 24:16 and says, Fall down seven times, get up eight! To be sure, this pandemic has pressed us all on every possible side of the life we once knew. It has pressed us relationally. It has pressed us emotionally. It has pressed us mentally. It has pressed us financially. It has pressed some of us physically. And it has pressed all of us spiritually. To use an old phrase, we are at the end of our rope . . . but Paul tells us we are not at the end of our hope. No matter how hard pressed Paul was, he was not crushed by the trials life threw at him. Why? Because of the living hope he clung to each time he reached the end of his rope.
Paul wrote that “We are hard pressed.” Please note that pressure is a common experience for all the saints of God. Pressure has been promised! It is a false Christianity which teaches that faith in Christ leads to freedom from pressure. The truth is just the opposite! Speaking from the personal experience of my wife Kim and myself, it was not until Jesus saved us back in 1995 that we truly began to understand the phrase “hard pressed on every side.” When you take a stand for the Savior, you begin to experience the truth of what Jesus said: “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20).
So how can we find encouragement in being hard pressed? It lies in the fact that we are not crushed by it. No doubt, pressure can be quite painful. But as Nobel Prize winner Henry Kissinger, who served as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford, once said, “A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.” In short, pressure creates diamonds!
So . . . how well are you doing under the pressure of this pandemic? Are you becoming more “diamond-like?” Scripture commands us to “shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life” (Philippians 2:15-16). Christian, keep looking to your Living Hope, and you will find that, while your rope may seem awfully short, you will never, ever reach the end of your hope. Know that God is using COVID-19—just as He uses all the pressure you face in this life—to conform you to the image and likeness of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
I’ll be back with you Wednesday, and we’ll dive back into this passage.
You are in my prayers and in my heart.
Purpose and Passion,