[So I spoke…]
Hope is so important. How we view our present troubles makes all the difference. Paul, an apostle of Christ, understood this well as he wrote his letter to the Corinthian church.
Below is one of Pauls most hope filled pieces of encouragement and council. He reminds the Corinthians to fix their eyes on the unseen. It sounds the opposite of what you’d expect to hear. How do you fix your eyes on something you can’t see, right? This is faith: the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1) So we look ahead. Why? What’s ahead of us sheds light on what we’re going through. It makes sense of it and fills us with hope. So Paul points out all that their present troubles are accomplishing in the believer as well as those who will believe.
When Paul writes, “we are hard pressed” he means it! What they faced was no small thing. If you look at all that Paul went through during his ministry, you begin to wonder how he endured it all. He had hope. He understood what it was achieving so he was willing to endure all things, including imprisonment and beatings, for the sake of the gospel. That’s both dedication and understanding. He had the same kind of faith that the Psalmist did, so he spoke. (Psalm 116)
Never Lose Hope…
I’ve known people who are afraid to hope for fear that their hopes will be dashed. As followers of Christ that fear is a lie. No matter what we’re facing today, if we have faith, we also have the assurance that our hope will never disappoint us. (Romans 5:5-7) Jesus Christ is our living hope. Fix your eyes on the unseen. This is how we find our bearings and carry on.
“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. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.
But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. –2 Corinthians 4:8-18
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