Hard Pressed But Not Crushed (7 Apr 2013)

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Cor 4:7-9

This is a beautiful picture of the spiritual strength of a Christian. When we are Christians, we are in the world, but not of the world. And this is an important truth for us to understand as Christians. Jesus did not pray for us to be taken out of the world. Our spiritual growth and journey takes place in the world. Jesus’ prayer is that while we are in the world, that we be protected from the evil one.

There should be no divide between the sacred and the secular. It doesn’t mean that one is more holy when one is working in the Church, than another who is working in the bank. It doesn’t mean that one is more holy when one is studying in a bible college instead of studying in NUS. Wherever we are called to be, we can grow towards being more Christ-like. There are many transitions we will go through, the different levels of education means different responsibilities. Moving into the workforce will mean a whole new challenge. Moving into retirement will also mean a big change. How then do we continue to cope with our Spiritual growth through all these transitions?

Going back to our verse today, we know that the Christian journey is not easy. We see words like perplexed, persecuted, struck down. These are strong words. And these may be the feelings and emotions we face when we are Christians in the world. When we are Christians in school, in our work place. It is never easy being Christ-like because so many things fight for our attention and priorities. And the biggest challenge all of us will face is the pressure of conforming to the world. This is where our discipline to walk consistently with the Lord is important.

The discipline to walk with the Lord, to serve Him, to read His Word, comes not only through prayers. We cannot merely pray for more time so we can serve Him, we cannot merely pray for more strength so as to be awake enough to read His word, we cannot merely pray that the day’s programs won’t end late enough so that we have time to pray before we sleep. Most part of that discipline comes from our victory of will over our bodies and over the desires of the world.

We must purpose to make time to serve Him amidst our busy schedule. We must purpose to read His word and to pray, even if it means giving up some of our comforts. The journey to discipline is not an easy one. We have the world and its desires attracting us to lose our focus on our Creator. We have the influence of friends pressuring us to make certain decisions that may be against the will of God.  But what is the encouragement God gives to those who do not lose heart? His power that is within us is stronger than the desires of the world. Yes we may face hard pressed situations, strong temptations. But the above verses say that, we will not be crushed, not be despaired, not abandoned and not destroyed! How comforting that is! How great is the power of God within us that when we are being beaten from the outside, our inner being stays strong to repel the outside. And most importantly, this power within is not from us. It is from God. Make every effort to draw on His power everyday.

Brother Samuel Lim