How many of us have ever felt the pressures of life? Let’s not fool ourselves. We live in a fallen world surrounded by everyday troubles and stresses.
* A nation in conflict
“I’m at my wit’s end over all this!”
THE APOSTLE PAUL Addresses the Issue – 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 NIV:
“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.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.  So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”
Looking at this Scripture, we can discover a few applications from it–
#1. You and I are going to have problems.
Here we have Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament and having and facing problems in his life.
— He was shipwrecked 3 times…
— Put in prison multiple times…
— He had many ministry issues…
— He had a “thorn in the flesh…
It doesn’t matter who you are, how spiritually mature or immature, you are going to experience problems and pressures in your life. Just because you come to JESUS, it doesn’t mean that the world and your enemy are going to cut you any slack. In fact, it will probably intensify! And, you might even say to yourself at times…“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
Overcoming the Types of Problems and Stresses in Life–Soda Pop Cans and “Jars of Clay”
Paul not only describes the types of problems and stresses we all face, but how to overcome them at the same time.
A. I’m PRESSED but not CRUSHED!
Paul is telling us we are “hard pressed on every side.” This is the PRESSURE OF THE WORLD. But, I am NOT crushed – Why?
TWO ALUMINUM POP CANS – One can is unopened and full of soda pop. The other can is opened and empty.
If I take the FIRST CAN and squeeze with all my might, I can’t crush it. Now, I know that with enough pressure the can will rupture, so bear with me in this.
If I take the EMPTY CAN and apply only a small amount of pressure, it will collapse. I wasn’t able to crush the first can because it isn’t open to the world. SECONDLY, there is something inside.
“He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
ONE CAN collapsed easily–
1.) Was open to the world.
2.) There was nothing on the inside.
How then can we be PRESSED but not CRUSHED?
We make a decision not to open up to the world; to allow Christ Jesus to be our strength.
B. I’M CONFUSED, BUT NOT FREAKING OUT! (verse 8)
The word “PERPLEXED” in the Greek language literally translates “to have no way out; to be at a mental loss.”
Have you ever been confused? Not knowing where to turn or what to do? Yes, we have all dealt with circumstances in life where we thought there was no way out.
So how is it that we can be “at a mental loss” and not FREAK OUT saying, “I’m not going to take this anymore!”?
Same reason as before: IT IS CHRIST WITHIN ME!
Jesus is ALL-KNOWING!
He is OMNISCIENT!
He knows what tomorrow holds!
He is in control.
The reason I’m not freaking out is because I know God is going to work it all out for my good.
“And we know that God causes EVERYTHING to work together for the good of those who LOVE GOD and are called according to His purpose of them” (Romans 8:28 NLT–capitalized for emphasis).
God might be working you right now, but He’s working you for your own good. TRUST in His promises.
C. I’m Bloody, Not Broken.
If you get smacked in the nose, it hurts! Your eyes well up with TEARS dealing with real pain.
I remember playing baseball in High School one year, and while in the batter’s box waiting for the pitch, I was struck between the eyes with a fastball. It broke the safety-glasses I was wearing in half. No blood, but suffered two black eyes and plenty of tears from the pain.
In LIFE, we all deal with hurts, wounds and yes, even black eyes. It may come from our PAST or PRESENT situations.
How then, can we deal with our HURTS and still PRESS forward?
Allow Christ to manifest Himself in your life through the Word of God.
Build up RELATIONSHIPS of other brothers and sisters in Christ which helps us through our tough times. Sometimes we just need someone with skin on them to comfort us in a time of need (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
D. I’m Knocked Down, Not Knocked Out!
Yes, sometimes we do get knocked down; hit in the gut by betrayal, death of a loved one, loss of finances…the wind is knock completely out of us as we lie gasping for breath and afraid to get back up on our feet.
FEAR of being hit again can keep you down.
DOUBT can keep you down.
The only person keeping you on the mat…IS YOU!
Why cant the DEVIL keep me down? Because Christ is in me. The devil and every demon in hell couldn’t keep Him down!
“Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over ALL the power that the enemy [possesses]; and NOTHING shall in any way harm you” (Luke 10:19 AMP).
HOW CAN I ‘KEEP ON, KEEPING ON’, WITHOUT GETTING MAD AT MY REOCCURRING CIRCUMSTANCES?
It’s coming to the REALIZATION…it’s not about you.
It’s a CHRIST thing.
To be a Christian you need to let JESUS, not you, control your life.
You have to SUBMIT to Him fully–not half way; not kinda, sorta, BUT fully! This allows Him to flow through you. Remember, you’re going to have problems. There’s no escaping it.
I have been BLESSED to be a part of 5 Billy Graham Crusades over my Christian life. I will always remember George Beverly Shea; Canadian born, American gospel singer and hymn composer, who died this past April 2013 at the age of 104. One song in particular he composed and used to sing at the Crusades fits in nicely I think with 2 Corinthians 4:7-12: I’d Rather Have Jesus than…
He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out of the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.
WITHOUT HIM, I CAN BE…
– Freak Out
– Be broken
– Be knocked out
JESUS tells us this:
“And Jesus said, [You say to Me], If You can do anything? [Why,] ALL things can be (are possible) to him who believes!” (Mark 9:23 AMP).