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Persevering in Faith

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“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed …” (2 Cor. 4:8-9, ESV).

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Is this where you are right now? Or maybe you really do feel crushed, driven to despair, almost destroyed. None of us wishes for hardships, but Jesus warned that trouble would always be part of life (John 16:33). James went even further, writing, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (Jas. 1:2-4).

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So persevering through trials is part of the process of maturing in Christ. I get that. But “pure joy”? How can we be joyful in the midst of affliction?

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Let’s go back to that passage in Corinthians. The verse right before it says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Cor. 4:7, ESV). And what is “this treasure”? Go back one more verse and it tells us: “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (vs. 8). That’s quite a mouthful, but basically it means that, through the gospel of Jesus Christ, we hold the power of God within our being. Though our bodies are mere “jars of clay,” the Holy Spirit in us gives us the ability to say with confidence that, though afflicted, perplexed or persecuted, we are not crushed, desperate, or destroyed.

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Sure, you may be saying, that all sounds good on paper, but I still don’t feel it.

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William Carey, called “the father of modern missions,” had no formal education or material wealth when he sailed to India in the late 1700s. Though life was hard and he suffered many losses, he stayed in India for 41 years, helped translate the Bible into many languages, fought for social reform and laid the groundwork for many missionaries to come. In describing his qualifications for ministry, Carey simply wrote, “I can plod.”

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Perhaps joy seems out of reach right now. If life is hard and cracks are showing in your clay jar, ask Jesus to shine through the cracks. Remember, the power is not your own, but His. And if you can’t do anything else, just put one foot in front of the other. If nothing else, you can plod. 

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Just Between Us (JBU) wants to help you persevere, and even find joy, in the midst of hardship. We’ve put together these articles that offer support. As you read through them, turn to God, your source of joy and “all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3-5), and pour out your heart to Him. We think you’ll find, as the Psalmist did, that “weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Ps. 30:5b, NLT).

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