2 Corinthians 4:9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
The list of afflictions continues with the challenge of persecution. This was common for the earliest Christians. As followers of Christ, we should expect to be treated like Christ was. We can ask ourselves, if we are not feeling persecution of some type, are we truly and faithfully living the Christ-like life? We will face harassment of many types because the darkness does not like the light. We all just want to live our lives in peace, but even in the most subtle way, our beliefs are being challenged. Even in relatively safe countries, believers and churches are being persecuted more and more. “Freedom of religion” is only a phrase when governments put all kinds of restrictions on churches.
When all of this happens, it is easy to feel lonely and isolated. We may experience ostracization and rejection from family, friends, community, co-workers, and so forth. But in this situation, we are actually not alone. Most clearly and importantly, God the Holy Spirit is with us. God promised in the Old Testament, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5) and also the New Testament (Hebrews 13:5). We can build our lives on this promise. God has also given us one another, to hold up one another during the difficult parts of our journey. Paul writes this letter as a way of inviting and urging the Corinthians to hold him up during his suffering. We truly do need each other to make it through this life.
We also may experience being struck down. This may be physical, but most of us experience this psychologically in the way of ridicule. There may be points where we are affected financially for our faith. The temptation many people face is to compromise their convictions. The deceiver tempts us to cheat a little, try to get away with a small compromise, since no one will really know. But this will begin a slippery slope that may be grow steeper and slicker over time.
No matter way way we are persecuted, we are not destroyed. We may be harmed physically. We may lose our finances. We may even been killed. But our final outcome is victory. When facing difficult situations like this, our faith will experience the greatest testing. Do we truly believe what we claim? This faith gives us hope, and hope is what sustains us during suffering. Our earthly life may be ruined, but we are guaranteed heavenly rewards. As Jesus promised, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
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