For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone 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 excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard- pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed — always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus ’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
– 2 Corinthians 4:6-11
Paul travels in some pretty elite spiritual company in my mind and is paired with men like Joseph and Job as it pertains to dealing with life’s traumas and tribulations. Yet Paul, like Joseph and Job seemed to understand the All Things principle in a way that made it visible to others both in word and deed. The next thing I want to point out is packaged in a way that makes it easy to remember; Problems do not change your purpose. We could insert trials, traumas, tribulations, any number of descriptive term of phrases that would all be fitting but the all encompassing description of these things as problems not only lends itself to being remembered but also covers all the bases. This is what Paul is saying here though his comparative phrases; hard-pressed, but not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed. I want to remind you as well that you can travel in this elite crowd as well. You can say as Joseph did to his betraying brothers;
But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.
– Genesis 50:20
The circumstances for Joseph were that his jealous brothers sold him into slavery to a traveling merchant and in his captivity a high ranking officials set her eye on Joseph and when he refused her advance she accused him of assaulting her and he was imprisoned. While in prison he interpreted the dreams of two men concerning their future and one was executed and the other released just as Joseph had said. When the man had his position in the kingdom restored Joseph said remember me and see if you can get me out of here since I am innocent of all charges. The man forgot him for two years and then finally Joseph is released from prison and through a series of circumstances is promoted to second in command in all of Egypt and after all these things and after many years, the brothers who started this whole process wind up standing before Joseph asking for food in the midst of a seven year famine. What you just read was Joseph’s reply to them once they found it it was him.
That is what hard- pressed on every side, yet not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed looks like in the life of someone who understands the All Things principle. Problems, however that may be defined for you, do not change the purpose of your existence as a Christian. It may change you, it may change your circumstances, it may change your happiness, it may change your pain level, it may change your ability to trust certain people, it may require you to forgive certain people for your own sake. But your purpose will never change which is to be a light that shines out of darkness. To be a witness, to love and serve God, to meet the needs around us as we are able, to recognize that the evil meant against us may not be from family but from powers and principalities and rulers of darkness in this age. (Ephesians 6:12)
Excerpt from “Dancing With the Scars” now available on Amazon.