Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Not Crushed, Not In Despair




















































I remember reading the sports pages of one particular weekend in 2009 which were dominated by (then) English League soccer champions Manchester United’s 2-1 win over their arch-rivals Arsenal. Among the reporters comments were ‘Arsenal were clearly the better side’, ‘they (Manchester United) were lucky to win’, etc. I did not see the match but from the neutral reporters, what emerged was that Manchester United never gave up. They kept moving forward even though Arsenal displayed greater skills and speed. Ultimately their resilience in the face of a seemingly superior opponent paid off. Reading these reports, I get an echo of Paul’s words in 2 Cor 4:8, “hard pressed on every side but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.”

Does this verse hold true in our lives? In these challenging times, we will be hard-pressed and perplexed by events like divorce, financial failure, retrenchment, children’s waywardness, etc. If Paul’s words are to hold true, then it is important to let God help us face, accept and resolve the pain of our stressful crises and then move us on.

First, we must acknowledge God as sovereign and the ultimate source of all we have. This means we can trust him to provide what we need to overcome our challenges. Thus, as we wait on God’s timing to deliver us, we should also look for a new job if we are retrenched and not act paralyzed by despair; seek sound advice to manage our finances so that we are not crushed by financial failure; join a parents’ support group so that we do not feel abandoned when our children become independent, etc. God, in his sovereign power, works through all our circumstances. I also think it important that our daily schedule be as normal as those days where we do not face these challenges. In other words, go to bed and wake up at the usual time. Go out and engage in some positive pursuits during what used to be your working hours. Don’t stay up late ‘unwinding” on the internet or cable TV. Keep in contact with other people, pastors, church friends and others, who can encourage and pray for you.

Above all, we need to keep our eyes on the goal. That is what the Manchester United team did – keep their eyes on the goal they were shooting for. Our goal is ensure that our fellowship with God is maintained at all times. It is always good to keep close to God and to dwell in his presence. We should pray and read the Bible often to seek God's Will and to act accordingly rather than act according to how our emotions tell us to. He will not fail us and if our challenges are due to us failing him, then we should all the more seek him because we know he loves and accepts us unconditionally. The right spiritual attitudes will determine if we overcome or are overcome by our challenges. May we then avail ourselves to his grace and live as overcomers to glorify God.

May Christ’s blessings abound in all whose hope is in him and in him only.

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