“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).

In this world, we are afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down. This doesn’t surprise us because Jesus told us what to expect: “In the world, you will have tribulation” (John 16:33a).

But oh, the sweetness of these words!

  • …Not crushed.
  • …Not driven to despair.
  • …Not forsaken.
  • …Not destroyed.

There are always limits to our suffering, boundaries that the enemy of our souls can’t cross. God’s determined ahead of time that whatever affliction, perplexity, and persecution we face, however many times we’re struck down, if we belong to him, then,

“Neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).

This reminds us of Jesus’ words, “But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Troubles will come. Car accidents, cancer, natural disasters, unemployment, sleepless nights, babies who die in the womb, dementia, genetic diseases, and broken relationships because of sin exist in our fallen world. All of us feel the effects of sin. We taste its bitterness, and we smell its stench.

Christ and the Great Hope of the Christian

One of our great hopes as Christians isn’t the absence of trouble but the boundaries God sets on it. Tribulation can pile on, and it can toss us to the ground, but there’s a line drawn that it cannot cross…because of a cross…because Jesus was crushed and forsaken:

“But he was wounded for our transgressions;

            he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

            and with his stripes we are healed.” (Is. 53:5)

Jesus was wounded and crushed for our sin, and his chastisement brings us peace. His stripes are the balm that heals our deepest wounds and meets our greatest need for salvation from sin.

Nothing in Our Lives is Wasted by the Lord

None of Jesus’ suffering was wasted. All of it was meaningful. It did something. It saved you and me and all those who place their trust in him.

Because Jesus was crushed, we aren’t.

Although our bodies may be bruised, our souls and our future remain secure. When affliction comes, whatever form it takes, we can know that our affliction is also achieving something:

“For the slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18).

Are you afflicted? Are you perplexed? Are you persecuted? Are you struck down?

Look at the one who is unseen. Come to Jesus. Sit at his feet. Pour out your heart to him. Read his Word, and listen to him speak to your heart. “Be still, and know that [he is] God” (Ps. 46:10).

Remember that Jesus was crushed on your behalf—that you might know, trust, and treasure him. He was forsaken so that you would never be forsaken. He was struck down before he was raised to live and rule forever.

When our “slight momentary affliction” comes, it’s another opportunity to die to our own desires and preferences and live to Christ. “For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor. 4:11).

Four Critical Truths to Not Lose Heart in Trials

So don’t lose heart. Don’t despair. Instead,—live, show, trust, and believe.

Live. Live for Jesus. Live for the one who was crushed on your behalf. Live for him in the middle of your affliction.

Show. Showcase his worth and his glory. Show others that he is greater, he is stronger, he is able, and he is mighty.

Trust. Trust his goodness and steadfast love. Trust his timing. Trust his mercy and faithfulness.

Believe. Believe God’s promises are true for you. Believe he sees you and cares about your situation. Believe he won’t let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.[1] Believe that he is with you on your path of suffering.

God always limits our suffering. Our hope as Christians isn’t the absence of trouble but the boundaries God sets on it. Because Jesus was crushed, we aren’t.

[1] 1 Cor. 10:13