This week we have been studying about how to handle the pressures of this life. During our studies, we have focused upon the Apostle Paul and some of his difficulties. Concerning himself, Paul tells us in Scripture, “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 11:25)Paul experienced a lot of suffering; however, he did not let his suffering get him down. Paul also wrote, “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 Corinthians 4:8-9) How did Paul stay strong during his times of trouble?
2 Corinthians 5:6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
Like so many of us, the Apostle Paul longed for heaven. Yesterday we saw that he said, “Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling…” (2 Corinthians 5:2) To groan means to sigh. No doubt, life was sometimes difficult for Paul. Scripture says that he was beaten, imprisoned, in danger, and often hungry. (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-28) If anyone had good reason to become discouraged, it would have been Paul. Yet, no matter what life threw at him, he always bounced back. He also wrote, “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 Corinthians 4:8-9)How did Paul stay strong, even while suffering? He did so through his hope in Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
To understand this passage, we must realize that Paul is speaking in figurative language. The ‘tent’he refers to is our earthly body and the ‘heavenly dwelling’he mentions is the body we will receive in heaven. In essence, what Paul is saying is that someday we will lay aside these frail earthly bodies and receive a body that has been prepared for glory.
Some might read the Bible and think that it would have been exciting to have traveled with the Apostle Paul. Paul went to many places and he preached to many people. He also often witnessed the miraculous. However, Paul’s life wasn’t easy. Consider this portion of his testimony,
“I have … been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 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, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-28)
Paul experienced a lot of suffering during his time as an apostle. However, in spite of all of his suffering, he was never defeated. “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 Corinthians 4:8-9) How was Paul able to maintain such a positive attitude during such difficult times? Carefully consider this verse of scripture: “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)
Most of us are aware of our faults and failures. We recognize our insufficiencies and we are always mindful of our struggles. Though, not always being who we should be, may not bother some; for others, it is a great problem. They long to be like their Savior and when they are not, they are troubled. With that in mind, consider these three important truths.
God told Jeremiah that the city of Jerusalem was going to be destroyed and many in the nation of Israel would be carried away into captivity. Yet, there was still hope.
Lamentations 3:22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for him.” 25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
Consider Jeremiah’s words of hope.
Lamentations 3:21This I recall to my mind; therefore, I have hope. 22 Through the Lord’s mercies, we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
The book of Lamentations was written by a man named Jeremiah who is sometimes referred to as the ‘weeping prophet.’ The word ‘lamentation’ actually means weeping or wailing. Why was Jeremiah so sad?