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A Blessing in the Pressing

Life consists of many tests and trials, but, as we press forward, we are assured the victory through Christ’s surpassing power.

 


Life is to be lived. Yet, many of us sleepwalk through life waiting for some unicorn to appear and usher us into a state of euphoria. But that is not reality; it is wishful thinking. The truth is, life is a grind that demands grit. Nothing comes easy, and success requires intentionality and perseverance. There is an axiom that “attitude determines altitude.” That is, the more positive one’s perspective in life, the more promising one’s potential in life. We have to believe it before we can become it.

 

Handling Life’s Adversities

 

Along this journey, we will run into any number of adversaries and adversities. Whether people or problems, they both provide opportunities for the creative potential in us to be catalyzed for greater productivity. Most people are not willing to do or endure what it takes to be successful, resulting in them living their entire lives in depression and frustration. While it is true that there are some things that happen which are beyond our control, in most instances, we still have the agency to choose how we will respond. What is needed is the desire and drive to press through, press on, and press forward.

 

How do you handle life’s adversities? Do you stand down or stand firm? History is filled with myths and legends of monumental figures who were confronted with apparent defeat but rose to the challenge and became paragons of civilization. King David, Alexander the Great, the apostle Paul, and Joan of Arc have etched their names on the pages of history because they chose to live rather than to lose.

 

The Persona of Pressers

 

The apostle Paul encapsulates the persona of history’s paragons in his second letter to the church in Corinth:

 

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

 

There are three learnings that we can draw from his reflection.

 

1. We have a treasure. During times of testing, instead of focusing on what we don’t have, it is more productive to focus on what we do have. We have the treasure of the ministry of the gospel of Christ (v. 1). It is the good news of God’s life-giving covenant through Jesus Christ that shines bright during those moments when difficulty darkens our door. It is a treasure that we contain in our fragile human bodies that accentuates the power of God in our lives. Thus, we are sustained, not by our own strength, but by the surpassing greatness of God’s power. When we are tempted to focus on what is happening on the outside, let us always stop to remember the treasure that shines bright on the inside.

 

2. We have the victory. Opposition is a part of the warfare we signed up for. It is to be expected that we will face spiritual battles as we seek to win souls for Christ, but we are not going to run from the challenge. So, the more we endure, the stronger we become. And the more we overcome, the more confident we become. Consequently, each battle hardens us to the threat of danger because we continue to stand as we are strengthened by God’s mighty power. In the face of threat and opposition, it is the faithfulness of God that further fuels our faith. Thus, being hard-pressed, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down may cause us some tribulation, but they will never triumph over us because we operate in the surpassing greatness of God’s power.

 

3. We have Christ’s life. To follow Christ is to accept His invitation to pick up our cross and march with Him toward Golgotha. Even better, it is an invitation to meet Him in Galilee because His tomb is empty (Mark 16:7). Thus, our hardships are nothing more than our sharing in the sufferings of Christ so that we might also experience His resurrection power in our lives. We are given the privilege of communicating the same message of the reality of God’s spiritual kingdom being available to all who will believe the good news. And we are given the privilege of experiencing His death and life as we faithfully endure the persecutions of today’s enemies of the cross. What a joy to know that Jesus has counted us worthy to suffer for His name, and may we have the same attitude of heart as His apostles to rejoice at such an honor (Acts 5:41).

 

Good News for a Good Fight

 

Life is a battle, but Jesus has already won the war. He invites us to embrace the challenge of facing our adversities and adversaries by standing strong in the power of the gospel—which is the power of His victory at Calvary. There is no utopia or unicorn coming in this life, but the good news is that Jesus already came so we could face whatever challenges darken our door. Thus, we continue to fight the good fight of faith, knowing there is a blessing in the pressing.

 

Rev. Isaac Hayes is an Assistant Pastor at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, Illinois, and author of Men After God’s Heart: 10 Principles of Brotherly Love. He is also a doctoral student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Follow Rev. Hayes on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @RevIsaacHayes.

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