In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul uses the entire passage to encourage the Corinthians to persevere. Twice in this chapter Paul tells the Corinthians "not to lose heart" in their affliction. Paul reminds the Corinthians that their hope is not in this present world but in Jesus. Because they knew that He was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven with God the Father, they could have hope that they would also be raised with Him. Paul encourages the Corinthians that no matter what happened to their earthly bodies, they had life because of God's grace. Paul says that although they were "afflicted in every way" they were not crushed. They were "perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed," (verses 8-9) This was because they had their hope in eternal things not seen (verse 18). The momentary hardships that they faced would produce eternal glory without comparison (verse 17) that they would find in heaven in eternity with Jesus.

This letter from Paul to the Corinthians is reminiscent of a few verses in the book of James. "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing," (James 1:2-4). Just as Paul tells the Corinthians that the trials they go through lead to glory, James says the same thing: that someone holding onto Jesus through these trials will be made more full and compete in Him. We go from glory to glory until we are face to face with our maker.

For us, this matters because we are called to the same perseverance in faith as the Corinthians were. We are called to trust God and His goodness through any circumstance. Sometimes we are encouraged to think that God isn't good or that He isn't near to us because in our emotions we don't feel that is he close or our circumstances don't seem to match His goodness. But God isn't our circumstances. The world is broken, and bad things happen. But when you choose to trust God, even when things are bad, He'll give you a peace and a hope that cannot be taken away.

If you aren't going through some kind of trial, ask God to develop you and pull you into a deeper, trusting relationship with Him. Ask Him to prepare you for the times when things get tough. Read Matthew 7:24-27. And if you are going through hardship, invite Him in. Let Him fold you up into His loving Father's arms. Let Him show you His goodness in this season where it will shine the brightest. He loves you, and He will carry you through.

My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus' blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus' name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.

 

Author | Lindsey Conway