There is a word in the Bible that I’m so glad is there. I’ve come back to it again and again over the years. I have said many times, “Yeah! That’s the word for it. That’s what I’m feeling right now.”
What is the word? “Perplexed.”
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10
Perplexed, but not driven to despair!
Paul, the author of most of the New Testament, was perplexed at times. The brilliant theologian Paul didn’t know what the heck was going on at times. He didn’t understand why certain things were happening to him. There were things in his life that didn’t make sense. Outcomes that shouldn’t have happened. Friends that shouldn’t have betrayed him. Unexpected twists and turns. And he was perplexed.
Like when he was being a servant, gathering sticks for a fire and a poisonous viper latched on to him. Ever had that experience? You were just trying to serve and you wind up getting bit.
So many things in our lives are perplexing. We try to do the right thing and someone gets angry at us. We do all we know to do as parents and a child rebels. We help someone financially and they go around slandering us. We give someone godly counsel then they blame us for the problems their sins have caused. Perplexing. Confusing. Mind-boggling. Head-scratching.
Why does God allow us to be perplexed? To display his power. To remind us that we are jars of clay and all our strength is from God.
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed” – When life beats us down and we rise up out of the ashes praising God, it displays his incredible power.
“Perplexed, but not driven to despair” – When we go through confusing circumstances that would drive others to despair yet we continue to hope in God, that displays his might.
“Persecuted, but not forsaken” – Others hurt us yet we find again and again that God is with us.
“Struck down, but not destroyed” – We just keep getting back up again. Why? Why don’t we just stay down? Why don’t we we just give up? Why do we keep coming back to God’s word, and to church? Why do we lift up our hands in praise when we should just quit? Because of God’s power!
“Always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” When we “die” in any way – when we’re disappointed, betrayed, confused, perplexed, hurt, persecuted, disrespected, abused – it’s then that the life of Jesus shines most brightly through us. All our afflictions are intended to reveal the power and glory of God in our lives.
Are you perplexed? Are you down? Get back up. Keep going. Keep seeking Jesus for strength. Keep asking him for answers. Don’t despair. Jesus is about to display his glorious power through you.
Mark Altrogge has been senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, Pennsylvania, since 1982. He has written hundreds of songs for worship, including “I Stand in Awe” and “I’m Forever Grateful.” Mark and his wife, Kristi, have four sons and one daughter. Find out more on his blog, The Blazing Center.