You’ve probably experienced one of those times in your life. If you haven’t, you probably will. They seem to be universal. Sometimes life becomes so hard we feel like we have no other option than to give up.
The apostle Paul knew a whole lot about hard times. When the Lord Jesus met him on the road to Damascus, the Lord told him all the things he would suffer in His name. Those things certainly came to pass.
Read what Paul said about the difficulties of his life: “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea . . .” (2 Corinthians 11:24-25).
Later, Paul was imprisoned for extended periods (possibly twice) and suffered execution at the hands of the Romans. Paul certainly knew something about the hard times of life. Yet he never quit.
What did he tell us about these hard times (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10)?
First, he told us to take heart and not to give up. I have observed many people who have gone through unimaginable experiences. Yet, they have born up under the load and carried it well. These were people who took heart in the things of God and used their experiences to be an encouragement and an example to others.
Paul told the Corinthians to take heart because of what God had done for them in Christ.
Second, Paul told us about true reality. He said that the things which are seen are temporary but the things which are unseen are eternal. Most of the time we get those two concepts reversed. We assume that what we can see will last. It’s the opposite. The things that really matter are the things which are unseen – – things like faith, hope, and God himself.
We must focus on the eternal things. When we focus on the things that are unseen, we are dealing with the real world and with things which really matter.
Third, Paul encouraged us to remember the nature of our lives. Our outward bodies are decaying; our inward person is being renewed by the power of God day by day. It’s vitally important to recognize and embrace this fact. God is at work within those who know Him. He is conforming us to the image of Christ.
Finally, we need to see the difference between what we have now and what is to come. Paul recognized that our lives now are tenuous and temporal. This tent we live in (our physical bodies) can be destroyed. When that happens, God has a house for us with Him.
Look at the comparison of what we have now (a tent) and what God is preparing for us with Him (a house). Again, we have these concepts reversed. We think we have the house now and we’ll have a tent later.
When Paul saw all God had prepared for him, he said, “So we make it our goal to please [Christ]” (2 Corinthians 5:9).
So let us live to please Christ, knowing that He is working on our behalf and let us not give up.
I want to invite you to receive a free subscription to waylonbailey.com. Go to the area marked “Subscribe to Waylon’s Blog” and follow the directions and you will receive my daily look at life and Scripture from waylonbailey.com.