2Co 4:8-10 “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”
“We have you surrounded. Come out with your hands up!” is a familiar phrase in many dramas and novels. This is usually issued as an ultimatum to someone who is being pursued by an opposing force. It is the declaration of the opposing force that one should simply give up because there is no way out. The one surrounded then expresses some indication of distress and panic.
Paul, his companions, and the disciples of Jesus down through the ages have often found themselves surrounded (troubled [crowded] on every side). Unlike the protagonist in the movies dramas and novels, Paul was not in a panic and neither should we be. The reason Paul was not in a panic was not because he had devised some secret escape hatch. He was not distressed because His trust was in the God who had shined in his heart (2Co 4:6).
Paul was not a superhuman. He readily confessed here that he did not have all the answers all the time. We all find ourselves facing situations where we can see no way out (perplexed). Our human nature would have us fluttering against the bars of our uncertainty like a wild bird in a cage until we simply give up out of sheer exhaustion. Yet Paul says even when we are at a loss as to how we will escape, we are not in despair. We do not despair for the same reason we do not panic. God has shined in our hearts and proven to us that He is able in every situation.
We often feel pursued (persecuted) by our condition. Our Adamic nature is with us wherever we go. There are always those who are ready to label us as unkind, unloving, and out of touch with reality. Again, God has shined in our hearts with true love. He has assured us that we are not forsaken because He has loved us with an everlasting love (Jer 3:13). He is present in every circumstance of our lives (Psa 139:7-10).
Paul recognized that God being with him did not mean he would not be tried. God was with Daniel: that did not keep Daniel from the wrath of the king or out of the den of lions. It did keep the lions from devouring Daniel. Paul was imprisoned, shipwrecked, beaten and left for dead, but none of these things kept him from preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have had circumstances in our lives that we thought must surely destroy us, yet we have lived through them and seen the delivering hand of our God. The simple truth is that He will not allow us to be destroyed, just as He did not allow His Only Begotten Son to see corruption.
In verse seven of this chapter Paul spoke of a treasure that God has placed in these earthen vessels of ours. What greater treasure could we possibly bear in these bodies than the dying and living of our Lord Jesus? We bear the dying in that we will endure persecution for the cause of Christ. He assured us that if the world had hated Him it would also hate us. Then He manifested the joy of living, when He said for us to be happy because He has overcome the world.
May we be blessed to always carry in our bodies the dying and living of our Lord Jesus!