Sunday Services at 10:00am
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We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (2 Corinthians 4:8-12)
During the last days of Jesus’ life, two of his disciples were guilty of terrible offenses against him. As Jesus was being brought before the high priest for questioning, Peter denied knowing him three times, despite boasting to Jesus hours earlier that even if he had to die with him, he would never deny him. And Judas was even worse. He betrayed Jesus, selling him out to the Jewish religious leaders for thirty pieces of silver. Both men were utterly devastated when they came to terms with what they had done. Peter went back to fishing, the one thing he was still confident in. Judas, sadly, could not get over his guilt and hung himself.
I thought about Peter and Judas this week as our family dealt with the news of a family friend who committed suicide recently. This life is hard, and can be downright cruel and unfair at times. Plenty of people have dysfunctional families, mental illness, or other difficult circumstances thrust unsolicited upon them. And sometimes there is a very fine line between giving up hope and choosing to keep on living. Even great men of the Bible like Elijah (see 1 Kings 19:4-5) and Paul dealt with depression and despair. As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”
Despite this feeling of despair, Paul writes this only three chapters later: We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Amen. Life does not stop being hard when you begin to follow Jesus. In fact, it may even get harder, as Satan seeks to persecute and destroy you. But the one who is in us, Jesus by His Holy Spirit, is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4). And even though the rains come down, the streams rise, and the winds blow and beat against us, we will not fall, because our foundation is on the rock (Matthew 7:25).
Knowing Jesus means that no matter how hard things get, there is ALWAYS hope, for He is always working all things together for good, to make us more like Jesus (Romans 8:28-29). Knowing Jesus means that whatever pain and devastation we may face on earth, we know that it WILL NOT COMPARE with the glory that is to come for all eternity (Romans 8:18). And knowing Jesus means that we know that our pain will not be wasted, but will be used by Him to equip us to bring comfort and hope to others (2 Corinthians 1:3-6).
If you or someone you love struggles with suicidal ideation, I pray that you/they would fix your/their eyes on Jesus. When everything else around us and within us is in turmoil, in Jesus we have a secure place to rest our weary soul and find strength and hope to persevere.
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