Grace for the Hard Place

We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact we expected to die. But as a result, wee stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And He did rescue us from mortal danger, and He will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in Him, and He will continue to rescue us. (2 Corinthians 1:8-11 – NLT).

At a pastor’s conference we held in Wanago, Ethiopia, the Lord gave me a word to share with these precious pastors who face daunting daily life challenges. All of us face the tough times that life brings. In the above verse, the Apostle Paul bears his heart to the believers at Corinth. He shares that at times the pressure was so difficult that he was not sure that he would survive. In 2 Corinthians 4:8 he shares: We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but we are not driven to despair.

In 2 Corinthians 6, Paul mentions further troubles he faced; being beaten, imprisoned, suffering from lack of sleep, lack of food, lack of clothing and shelter; suffering heartaches from close friends and trouble from enemies of the cross of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 11, Paul mentions being put in prison, being beaten, whipped, stoned, being shipwrecked 3 times, being whipped with the Roman cat-o-nine-tails five times, being adrift in the sea for a day and a half, facing dangers in cities, in deserts, and on the sea.
In all of these terrible circumstances. Paul remains upbeat, and unmoved, and in the end, joyful! How could he keep such a good attitude? I believe the answer is found in Colossians 2:6-7: And just as you have received Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow down into Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth your were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Paul’s life was rooted in His relationship with Jesus. He mentions in Ephesians 1 that his relationship with Jesus brings a security of being loved by God that cancels condemnation; that gives him the adopted position of a legal son in God’s family. That legal sonship grants privileges of being cared and provided for just as a natural born heir to a wealthy father! Paul mentions that he was loved by God and in His mind before the world was created. Paul mentions that he is seated with Jesus in a place of authority that is far above every enemy, above every created entity, and above every problem that life brings. He is seated in the place of authority with Jesus.
No wonder he could declare: If God is for us, who can ever be against us. Since He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, won’t He also give us everything else? (Romans 8:31-32).
Regardless of the challenges we face today from within or without, let’s make a choice to root our lives into Jesus. Let’s allow our constant communion with Him in His Word and in prayer be the foundation from which we face every challenge and every test that this day brings. His grace is perfected in our weakness and inability. His presence in the middle of the hard place produces an inner strength that results in joy unspeakable and full of glory!

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