As I have read and re-read this chapter over the last couple of days, I have gained so much more than what I expected.
Whenever I read a passage of scripture, I try to think and understand what was going on at the time it was written. It must have been trying times for the new believers. Paul was desperately wanting them not to lose their faith because of the trials.
This treasure he referred to is the gospel of Jesus Christ. We carry His gospel, His light in our frail, earthly bodies. We are nothing. He is everything. When we face trials, we have a choice to either moan and complain about it or ask God to receive glory however He sees best.
I talked about a bad day I had when I ran out of gas. How trivial and frivolous compared to our brothers and sisters in other countries being truly persecuted for their faith in Christ. We may not be in danger of execution for our faith in Christ, but I know we have hard times. But- we have Christ!
Verse 7 which I have zeroed in on says that God put His treasure, His light in us so that everyone can see that this all-surpassing power is from God and not us!
There is such rich stuff in this chapter. I pray in my heart of hearts that each of you store this deep in your spirit man. My first story was a silly day that happened to me because of my carelessness but I want to share with you some "dark" days in my life when I was in the midst of a spiritual battle.
The early morning light hit my face and began to shake the sleep from me. As my consciousness awakened, the sick feeling hit my stomach. It was morning which meant I had to get up and face the day. "Oh, God! Why didn't you let me die in the middle of the night? Now, I have to face my husband, and tell him - again - that I am not pregnant." It was as if a dark shroud hovered over me everywhere I went. This was how my days would start.
It wasn't just having a "barren womb". It was everything! The bills kept coming in and there wasn't enough money to even cover half of them. It was time to buy groceries. We would have to choose- car payment, utilities, or groceries. Then to make matters worse, we had received something from Uncle Sam saying what we had filed was incorrect and we owed way more than we thought.
I remember feeling like a robot. Going through the motions, but there was nothing inside of me. I loved my husband, loved my God and enjoyed being in the ministry - but there was so much turmoil it seemed in every aspect of my life.
I felt I was being punished for something, I didn't know what, since I couldn't have a baby. I was letting my husband down, who I knew would be the most awesome father in the whole wide world. I was a failure. God was mad at me and I didn't know what I had done.
I hated waking up in the mornings. I just wanted to die and go to heaven. I felt if that happened then everyone would be relieved of the burden I placed on them. My parents wouldn't have to worry about me. My friends wouldn't have to feel sorry for me and my husband could remarry and find a wife who could give him children. This was my thought life during that time in my life.
Everyday coming home from work I drove through a dangerous curve with a great big tree beside it. Everyday I "wished" something would happen and I would just miss the curve and hit the tree.
I felt as if my whole life was being squeezed on every side. I was totally perplexed and confused. I felt defeated and worthless. (4:8) But I knew God loved me. I knew that He had a plan for my life (Jer. 29:11). So, I had to change something.
I remember lying in bed one night thinking, "Something has to change." At that moment my attention was brought to Philippians 4:8 that I had learned and memorized as a Missionette.
"Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true; whatsoever things are honest; whatsoever things are just; whatsoever things are pure; whatsoever things are lovely; whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue; if there be any praise, think on these things."
I thought, "Well, instead of thinking on all of the negative things in my life I am going to think on the positive each night before I go to sleep." And that is when the dark shroud started to slowly lift. I began to thank God each night for my wonderful and godly husband, for my great godly parents and for God's love and mercy. Then I would quote Phil. 4:8 over and over and over again until I went to sleep because outside of my husband and family, there seemed to be nothing else true, honest, just, pure or lovely.
I began to notice that my days didn't seem so awful when my eyes first opened. I still looked at the tree as I passed it. But the desire to just curl up and die wasn't as strong.
So began my discipline of God centered thinking. In the next few months, God raised the bar on my "thinking". When it was evident once again that I was not with child, He asked me to thank Him for that.
"What?!! Thank you God that I am not pregnant?! Thank you that once again I have to go to another baby shower or sit through another baby dedication knowing that I am inferior to everyone else???!!!" God simply said, "Yes. Trust me."
So, after I knew that I was not pregnant, I laid across my bed. Tears burned my eyes and covered my pillow as I reluctantly whispered, "Thank you God that I am not pregnant. Even though you know my heart! I want a baby to hold and love and kiss, God!!! But thank you that you are God and you know what is best. I praise you regardless."
Again, the sun streamed across my face of the mornings. My consciousness was aroused and - here it was another day to face, not knowing how the bills would be paid, how would we buy groceries. But again and again, we lived through it. Not much changed on the outside like I wished, but on the inside the peace of God was gaining ground.
I still felt the dark shroud, but it not longer consumed me. It was about this time that I read for the first time Frank Peretti's book Piercing the Darkness. As I read the fiction book based on scriptural principles, I realized that Rusty and I had been in the very center of a spiritual battle. My praying began to change and so did my Bible Study habits.
My problems didn't instantly go away and I didn't get all my prayers answered instantaneously and bankruptcy still looked like the only sane option - BUT God was faithful. As we prayed and began thanking God, even in the brunt of the storm, our hearts were hearing His voice more and more.
It was years later before we climbed out of the financial cesspool we were in and a few months later God gave us Glenda! We had a child and were a family. The depression left as I learned to war against the enemy with the Sword of the Spirit and intercession.
One thing I know, God never left me. He heard every prayer, and felt every tear. He gave me the gift of inner strength and endurance when the enemy was trying to cloud my "spirit vision" with lies from the pit of hell. Once I began focusing my thoughts on the things God had for me, my spiritual eyes were able to discern the truth from the lies.
I guess that is why 2 Corinthians 4 is so special to me. I want to encourage each of you to "not lose heart". You may feel hard pressed on every side, but you are not crushed! You may feel perplexed, but you are not in despair! You may feel persecuted, but sister, you are not abandoned! You may feel struck down, but Oh, my! You are not destroyed!! Isn't that awesome!
The all-surpassing pwer is from God and not from us! Look at verses 17 and 18:
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
Well, I said this blog wasn't going to be a devotional blog, but I hope something that I have written today challenges you to dig a little deeper in this chapter than you have already.
Next week we will take a look at a few more of the original Greek phrases in this verse.
Remember to post any prayer requests on Lauries on-line forum. The link is in the top left corner.
Also, post your thoughts or discussion questions in the comment section. I would love to hear from all of ya! It doesn't mean you have to give a full answer to all the questions. I don't want that to scare any of you away that have full schedules.
Here is an easy comment discussion:
- Have you ever had a time in your life when you felt like verse 8 was talking about you?
- If so, how did you overcome that trial?
Post your answers to these questions in the comment section!
Love you all and am praying for you!!