Troubled But Not Distressed 2 Cor. 4:8 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
How was Paul able to be troubled but not distressed? When most of us are troubled, we get very distressed. Here’s how our life generally goes. Things are rocking along pretty smoothly. Then trouble starts to build and we start getting stressed. At this point, we have typical ways of dealing with the stress. We either eat comfort food, talk to someone who can see our situation more objectively than we can, take a walk and sort it out with God, go shopping, shut down our emotions and try to think of something else, get mad and take it out on someone else, get busy doing something else to take our mind off it, try to help someone else with his or her problem, refuse to deal with the trouble, or the like. Some of these ways of dealing with stress are better than others, of course.
Paul’s way of handling his trouble, though, was different than ours. He didn’t get distressed. Look at the verse again, troubled, but not distressed, perplexed, but not in despair. How did he do that? If we could find out how to be troubled but not distressed, that would be better than what we have been doing. And don’t think that you will get to the place where trouble will just go away. It won’t. It’s here to stay. Here’s how to be troubled but not distressed.
By the power of God in our earthen vessels – 2 Cor 4:7 – Paul didn’t try to handle his trouble and persecution in his own power. He relied on the power of God that was in him. We have that same power in us right now. People often say that God will never give you more than you can handle. But the truth is that many times you will face things in your life that you can’t handle. But these things are not bigger than God can handle. And so, when you find yourself getting overwhelmed by trouble, remember to look to the power of God to get you through it. He will.
By our simultaneous death and Christ’s life manifest in us – 2 Cor 4:10-11– Paul understood that the life of Jesus was manifest in him when he was persecuted, cast down, perplexed and troubled. He could see it and others could, as well. Those who witnessed Stephen’s death could see that his face was like the face of an angel. For others to see the life of Christ in us our outward man must perish [2 Cor 4:16]. This is the Christian life, where we are always dying and Christ is always living in us [Gal 2:20]. His life in us is a testimony to others. The trouble works death in us so that others can see his life. His light shines in us “to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,” [2 Cor 4:6].
By the benefit to others and the glory to God – 2 Cor 4:12 – Paul knew that others were being helped by what he was going through. His suffering was for the furtherance of the gospel [Phil 1:12]. Likewise, by seeing how God is using our trouble to benefit others, we are encouraged. And when their thanksgiving redounds to the glory of God [2 Cor 4:15], then our trouble is not only a consolation to them but a blessing to God.
By the daily renewal of the inward man – 2 Cor 4:16 – Paul could never have survived all that he went through in the ministry if he had not daily renewed his inner man. All the great saints of God found their strength renewed in their time with the Lord. This is where your prayer, Bible reading and fellowship with God come in. You must “recharge your spiritual battery,” every day. And don’t “unplug” from the Lord until you are “fully charged.”
By the view of the eternal – 2 Cor 4:17-18 – When Paul went through trouble, he didn’t look at what he could see. He looked at the things which are not seen. When you look at the things you can see, you get discouraged and distressed and you despair. When you look at things which are not seen, you look from God’s perspective at eternal things. You see these things with the eyes of faith through the words of God. Paul started looking at the glory that would follow the suffering rather than at the trouble [Rom 8:17-18]. And so, you can be troubled but not distressed at the same time. By comparison to what he was looking at that could not be seen, his affliction was light and swift.
Conclusion: you and I are going to go through trouble and persecution. We are going to be perplexed and sometimes even cast down. But we don’t have to be distressed, we don’t have to despair, we will not be forsaken and we will not be destroyed. If we will follow Paul’s principle, we can be troubled but not distressed.