Staying Encouraged in Perplexing Times

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

The circumstances that we are facing right now that seem to press relentlessly and the stuff from tragedy to annoyance that pushes until we are knocked to our knees are the very things the Lord allows to bring death to our flesh and life to our souls and to souls around us. Sometimes I think God gives us little reprieves, but not for long.

Luke 3:16
John answered them all by saying, I baptize you with water; but He Who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of Whose sandals I am not fit to unfasten. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

Baptism with fire is a reminder that we have been accepted by God (a very good thing) to be living sacrifices (a not so fun thing) unto Him. When we first realize that the Lord accepts our lives as holy sacrifices it is an overwhelmingly humbling honor. Soon though, our flesh catches on to the whole thing and is crying out for mercy and pleading its case to be allowed to live. We would make all kinds of exceptions and excuses but The Holy Spirit is ruthless when it comes to our flesh and sin. We would try to talk our way out of crucifying the flesh in just about any way we could, but Holy Spirit is, well, holy. And His mercy toward us is so powerful that He won’t have mercy on our sin. He is single minded in His efforts to bring us freedom and present us as a spotless bride to Jesus.

The methods He uses are not always easily understood by our human minds and emotions. The places He allows us to tread and even leads us to are not always what we had in mind when we signed up for a journey to the promised land. In those times it is most important not to become offended at God and angry with His ways. He knows where we are going and what it will take to get there. More importantly, He knows the people we will cross on the way and has directed our path as much for them as for us.

2 Corinthians 4:11-12
11For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 12So then death worketh in us, but life in you (those around us).

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