Perplexed, but not in despair … 2 Corinthians 4:8
This is not about victorious living — this is about ordinary life lived out through the surpassing power of God. It’s not about you (or me). It’s about the all-surpassing power of God through us.
The definition of perplexed is to be baffled or puzzled. To be perplexed is to be uncertain as to why things happen, puzzled over what to do.
I often wonder why I try to maintain reason and logic with a mind that must move forward by sequential steps, each of which has to be justified, when my wife loves to leap across lanes of traffic in her thinking, where she may have to be wrong at some stage in order to achieve a right solution. With my linear thinking, this is impossible for me, and, quite frankly, drives me crazy. Why can’t she be more like me?
It’s complicated. She causes me to feel completely baffled. She throws me off balance. However, her bewitching does not throw me into the complete loss or absence of hope for me or for her. That is what despair does. It encompasses every area of our lives. We may doubt, or be discouraged, but despair defeats us and weighs heavily on us.
Paul says we believers are mere human beings who can expect to feel perplexed. But even in our ordinariness, we will never be left in despair. Why? Because we have this treasure in us — jars of clay that we are — to show that the all-surpassing power to live and not despair is from God and not from us. Just like when we feel hard pressed on every side, it is our human condition to take on stress that is not ours to put on. Nevertheless, we are not crushed by these circumstances, because in our weakness, we accept our failures as simple proof that we are inadequate indeed. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness with grace to turn outward to others, and we do so with greater compassion, sensitivity, wisdom and understanding. You might even say that the stress we put on ourselves and the perplexity to doubt are redeemed and put to God’s intended use to open our isolated hearts outward to others. We are no longer afraid to venture out, learning — over and over again — that it is not about us, it is about this surpassing power that clearly tells us, again, that everything is from God and nothing is from us.
So what do you stress over? What “why me’s” do you labor under? Do you recognize these are failures? They are. And while humiliating as that might be, it is a means to His grace, because it brings us very low and less than others so as to love them like no other. So that’s how this humiliation found in your failures can be a means to His gift of grace. And having received this grace, how can you not turn it outward to others just like you?
Alone, you are just left as an ordinary person with your stresses and doubts. But with His surpassing power, you will never be crushed or left in despair. With this comes empathy for others. You know your own failures. You know the humiliating experience of feeling very low. You can relate to other ordinary people, and love them as you love yourself. Are you willing to let the surpassing power deliver them from being crushed or left in despair?
Tell us a story about you today. How difficult is it for you to accept this simple truth found in your failure as a means to grace? Tell us about your struggle as an ordinary person when willing to let go what you secretly hold so dearly? These are not deep dark sins — but nevertheless, difficult to let go. For in the letting go, you will experience being brought very low to where, in your weakness, you will relate to other ordinary people. You will find in the connecting that you love them like no other. Today, take this experience of lowliness from your own failures, and through His surpassing power, love someone as low as you, offering him or her the refreshing grace given to you.