How to Develop a Growing Flock While Vulnerable, Part 2.

Last week, we studied the believer's reality of possessing great spiritual treasure (2 Corinthians 4:7). The rest of our passage describes further realities that believers are assumed to enjoy.

Personal Resolve (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

Paul lists four contrasting phrases highlighting how believers are enabled to persevere through life's most difficult circumstances. These hardships may come in ministry or in living the Christian life. We endure such things together. The glory of God shines even brighter in compelling our perseverance. As one author said, “Suffering always reveals the weakness of man and the greatness of God.”

Paul says we can be "afflicted," which means hunted, but not "crushed," or hemmed in without escape. We may be "perplexed," deeply anxious or in serious doubt, but do not "despair" or fear losing our lives. Though "persecuted," victims of an organized effort to harass, we are never abandoned or forsaken. We can be "struck down" with serious physical pain, but never "destroyed" so as to lose our reputation because we are beaten.

Even under various pressures, believers are enabled to live consistently. Our personal spiritual attention to one another is one way God has provided to escape from temptation under trial. We are never truly destroyed, even in death, which only ushers us into everlasting life and bliss.

Divine Resilience (2 Corinthians 4:10-12)

The purpose of difficulty is that the life of Christ might be manifested through us. Suffering is one way we have fellowship with Christ, a part of having all things in common. Like Him, we cannot be overcome or ultimately conquered even by death.

This union extends from suffering to glorification. We will be fully human as God intended when we are made like Christ's glorified body (1 John 3:2). When we live Christ's life, it is an influence for the eternal life of those around us as well.

"It is the unconquerable life of the risen Jesus within that enables his servants willingly and perpetually to be handed over to death for his sake, in order that the same life of Christ may be kindled in the hearts of others, enabling them in turn to win others. This is the chain of faith which is a true succession from the apostles, and it remains unbroken through the ages."

Application Points

  • Our personal spiritual attention to one another a provision of God under trial. How can you encourage someone you know is going through difficulty?
  • Are you willing to pursue the kind of Christ-likeness that could get you persecuted? Are you willing to suffer in order to see the influence of eternal life in someone else?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 1 Corinthians 10:13, 2 Corinthians 7:5-7, 11:23, Galatians 6:17, Hebrews 13:5, 2 Timothy 4:9-11, 4:16-18, Colossians 3:3 – Believers live consistently under pressure.
  • Luke 9:23, Galatians 6:14, 1 Peter 2:21, Hebrews 12:3, Philippians 3:10 – The purpose of difficulty.
  • Romans 8:17, 2 Timothy 2:11, Romans 8:36-37 – Suffering leads to glory.
  • Mark 8:35, Galatians 4:19 – Eternal purpose makes us willing to lose our own life for Christ's sake.
A Hymn to Encourage: "O God My Joy "

O God, my joy, You reign above
In radiant splendor and beauty.
Your Word has drawn my heart to love
The awesome sight of Your glory.
Your blazing light and gospel grace
Shine brightly from my Savior’s face.
No other wonder would I see
Than Christ enthroned in His glory!

Sustained by joy in trial and pain,
I trust Your wisdom and mercy.
Through suff'ring that Your love ordains,
More like Your Son You will make me.
For Christ embraced the cross of shame,
Beholding glorious joys to come.
O give me faith like His to see
That suff’ring lifts me to glory!

Compelled by joy, I fight the sin
That turns my gaze from Your glory.
Your Holy Spirit dwells within;
His presence arms me for vict’ry.
Let death and hell against me rise;
Through death I'll gain eternal joys.
All pow'rs of hell will bend the knee
Before my great King of glory!