Have you had one of “those” days lately? You know, where it seems each hour only brings more trouble. At first it’s no big deal, you deal with each problem that arises, but then the problems begin to stack up so fast that it’s a losing battle. You are ready to pull your hair out and you hear yourself say, “If one more thing happens…” We’ve all had those days…weeks…month…maybe years.
That’s when we need to be reminded to NEVER GIVE UP.
The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:
(1) And so, since God in his mercy has given us this wonderful ministry, we never give up.
(7) But this precious treasure—this light and power that now shine within us—is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies. So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own.
(8) We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit. (9) We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we gut up again and keep going. (10) Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
(16) That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. (17) For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! (18) So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now, rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.
And so, what is this wonderful ministry we have? If you look at the chapter before this Paul tells the Corinthians that when we have Christ we become mirrors to reflect the bright light of his glory to others. In other words, when people look at us there should be an evident glow that there is something different. Therefore, remembering where we were before we knew Christ and knowing how he has changed us, we should never give up Paul says.
Paul describes the troubles we will have. This is not a maybe, even as Christians we will have troubles just like everyone else. The difference is how we handle and react to those troubles.
Ever had one of those days when even before you wake you remember something you forgot the day before, at the breakfast table the kids are asking for money that’s due today, you hear a strange noise in the car that can’t be good, you try to figure out how to be in two places at once, you get home finally only to find you forgot to thaw something for dinner and just when you think you can end your day the kids are already asking for things for tomorrow. Paul says we will be pressed on every side from troubles. Yep, one of those days. It makes me think of those scenes in the movie where the stars are trapped in a room and the walls start closing in. There’s no way out and they can’t stop the walls, doomed to be flattened like a sheet of paper. Just when all hope seems lost, they find a rod (that they did not see half an hour before) and are able to brace the walls therefore dodging the end. Paul says we will pressed on every side like that, but he also says we will not be crushed or broken. God knows what is pressing on us and He will be our help. NEVER GIVE UP.
Then we have those days that we just can’t seem to think our way out of a box. Paul says we will be perplexed. This means we become uncertain. We can’t seem to think clearly or logically to make a decision about the problems. It goes beyond not knowing an answer. Sometimes we become so mentally and spiritually exhausted that we just can’t see or think it through. We are ready to throw in the towel and say we quit. But Paul is very specific here…don’t give and quit. NEVER GIVE UP.
Hunted down or persecuted is how the NIV reads. I believe Paul used this term in the most severe way. Christians in his time were hunted, imprisoned, tortured, mutilated for sport and killed. Today, in America, if I use the term persecuted Christians we think of foreign countries. We think of the Syrian refugees fleeing. Unfortunately it is becoming familiar here too. The recent shooting in Oregon. Paul says we are hunted down but we are never alone. God never abandons us. Even if the thought of physically being hunted down is unknown to you, let me remind you that we have an enemy who is always hunting us down. Satan is waiting and watching. When we have been pressed on every side and we are perplexed, he is there to attack. Those thoughts begin to come in that you failed. You’re a hypocrite. You’re worthless. You’re alone. Don’t believe those lies! God has not abandoned you or me. NEVER GIVE UP.
And then there are those days…something happens that can totally knock the breath out of you. The phone call that a loved one has died. The diagnosis you feared. Job loss. A child has walked away from the faith. Maybe it’s the combination of all of the above…pressed, perplexed, and hunted. Paul says we will get knocked down…BUT…I love a big but…BUT we get up again and keep going. NEVER GIVE UP.
If you’ve ever watched a life on Jesus Christ, pay attention to the scenes when he is carrying his cross to Calvary. He falls down. He has been beaten beyond recognition, with every step his life is flowing from him. However, he gets back up because he has a goal…the will of his Father in heaven. Verse 10 says we share in this same suffering so that people can see us get back up…so that we can brightly reflect the power and glory of Jesus. We don’t keep getting back up because we are strong…we get up because the power of Christ lives in us.
We live in a broken world and a broken body that is dying every day, but our spirits are being renewed every day. Not just Sunday or Wednesday. We should be in the Word daily to renew our strength. If we are doing that then Paul says we don’t focus on our troubles but we stay focused ahead to the joys that are coming! NEVER GIVE UP!!