[This article was taken from chapter 16 our book Don’t Blame God! A Biblical Answer to the Problem of Evil, Sin, and Suffering]
So here we are in a spiritual war zone “behind enemy lines” until the Lord Jesus shows up to rescue us from this present evil age. How do we approach the challenges we encounter in the Adversary’s domain? With the supernatural power of God resident within us in the gift of His spirit.
2 Timothy 1:7-12
(7) For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
(8) So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God,
(9) Who has saved us and called us to a holy life— not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,
(10) But it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
(11) And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.
(12) That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.
Note in verse eight that it is by the power of God working in and with us that we can persevere despite suffering, knowing that we have been called by God to a holy purpose that will be consummated in the age to come. In its notes on 2 Corinthians 4:11, the NIV Study Bible puts it well by saying that “human weakness provides the occasion for the triumph of divine power.” The sooner we recognize our own inability, the sooner we can, by association, remember and lean upon the Lord Jesus Christ’s supernatural ability in us. This is a great key to looking at life’s challenges with encouragement rather than discouragement.
2 Corinthians 4:8 and 9
(8) We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;
(9) Persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
In verse eight, the word “perplexed” means “not knowing which way to go,” while “in despair” means to think there is no way to go. But, as the verse says, we are not in despair, because the truth is that there is always a way to be faithful to God, Who never abandons us, and helps us find the way.
2 Corinthians 4:10-12
(10) We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
(11) 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.
(12) So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
The epistles to the Corinthians relate closely to the doctrine set forth in Romans, and the above three verses illustrate that. To magnify the power of Christ in us rather than magnifying our own weakness, we must consistently reckon the “old man” dead and “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:11). This is what verses 10-12 (above) are all about. As the NIV Study Bible notes put it, “daily ‘dying’ magnifies the wonder of daily resurrection life.”