For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord: and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair.(2 Corinthians 4:5-8) [Emphasis mine]
That section above in bold is a quote in many volumes of Bible Encouragement. It’s kind of a catch-all for a lot of people, many of whom have never truly been “troubled” nor “perplexed”.
But it sounds good, right?
According to Strong’s Concordance, the word used here for “troubled” means “afflicted, to suffer tribulation”. It might also mean pressed, in much the same way that we press grapes for their juice.
You know… CRUSHED.
Perplexed, from the same resource, means “to have no way out, to be at a mental loss, or to actually stand in doubt”. Other definitions include “without resources, embarrassed, with nowhere to turn and to not know how to decide what to do next”.
Well, Paul’s right about that! We’ve definitely been perplexed! But you know what we’re NOT?
Again, using Strong’s Concordance for deeper study, we see that distressed (which, remember, the Word says we are NOT), means “in a narrow place” or in spiritual “dire straits”, or hemmed in closely.
We are also NOT “in despair.” This means to be despondent… utterly at a total loss. It means you have renounced all hope, completely destitute with no resources at all.
Whew!! What a word!!
We might feel crushed. At a loss for words, and not knowing where to turn next. It might be confusing, embarrassing, and it might make us FEEL like we have nothing at all in our favor. And that’s just where the enemy wants us, even if it’s NOT his doing.
The truth is, in these earthen vessels, we can’t readily see the spiritual battle that’s going on around us. We might not know exactly what’s going on, but you can trust the Word. It DOES NOT return void. It DOES NOT lie. And it DOES NOT leave us without comfort.
Just try it!!
Remember that we are as much NOT what the Bible says we are NOT, as we ARE what the Bible says we ARE. Because we are children of the Most High God, the King, the Creator.
Is there anything too hard for God?
I think not!!