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.

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5 Responses to Perplexed

  1. Priscilla says:

    My comment may not address what you’re looking for but it seems to be the only thing I can think about right now. So I’m just going to put it out there. My husband has dementia and I’m not handling it very well. I recently had hip replacement and instead of receiving care from him I’m his caregiver. Here are a few of the emotions I’m feeling: anger, impatience, why me, what happened to my golden years? All this is doing for me is causing more stress. I do give this to the Lord but next thing I know I’ve taken it all back. I want to learn how to surrender it to Him and leave it there. Only then will I be able turn his grace outward to others.

    • Priscilla, I empathize and pray with you.
      My wife is in the beginning stages of Parkinson’s; my sister was just told that she has cancerous masses in both her lungs and liver, plus an aneurysm was spotted in her brain; my brother is recuperating from surgery for throat cancer; I’m still recovering from a heart attack; my kids have their issues; my co-workers are suffering ailments of varying degrees from emotional to terminal; the list goes on… and I. too, ask the same questions you’re asking.

      But still: Blessed be the Name of the Lord, right?!

      I read the following Devotion from “Our Daily Bread” this morning.
      Perhaps it may help you – for today anyway.

      LORD, you are the God who saves me.
      Psalm 88:1

      In a Peanuts comic strip, the very enterprising character Lucy advertised “psychiatric help” for five cents. Linus found his way to her office and acknowledged his “deep feelings of depression.” When he asked her what he could do about his condition, Lucy’s quick reply was, “Snap out of it! Five cents, please.”
      While such lighthearted entertainment brings a momentary smile, the sadness and gloom that can grip us when real life happens is not that easily dismissed. Feelings of hopelessness and despair are real, and sometimes professional attention is needed.
      Lucy’s advice wasn’t helpful in addressing real anguish. However, the writer of Psalm 88 does offer something instructive and hopeful. A truckload of trouble had arrived at his doorstep. And so, with raw honesty, he poured out his heart to God. “I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death” (v. 3). “You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths” (v. 6). “Darkness is my closest friend” (v. 18). We hear, feel, and perhaps identify with the psalmist’s pain. Yet, that’s not all. His lament is laced with hope. “Lord, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry” (vv. 1–2; see vv. 9, 13). Heavy things do come and practical steps such as counsel and medical care may be needed. But never abandon hope in God.
      ~ By Arthur Jackson

      When have you turned to God in the midst of your despair?
      What’s keeping you from crying out to Him now?

      Father, help me to see Your open, welcome arms regardless of my situation.

      The book of Psalms is the hymnbook of ancient Israel. The amazing collection of 150 psalms includes songs of lament where the writers—who are faced with difficult, painful, and confusing circumstances—pour out their hearts lyrically to God. Some believe that nearly one-third of the psalms are laments (personal or national). Songs of lament include these features, as seen in Psalm 88: a description of the dilemma (vv. 3–9); the asking of questions (vv. 10–12; see Psalm 13:1–2); calling or crying out to God in the midst of unpleasant circumstances (vv. 1–2, 9, 13); and, more often than not, hope in and praise to God.

      Shalom, Peace…

    • Mark D Seguin says:

      Dear sister, Priscilla in the Lord please consider contacting your Doctor and than Social Security and asking for help with either a therapist or home health care aide to be sent to your home twice a week…

      You & your husband while be in my thoughts & prayers!

      PS you both paid into it, SS all of your life – hopefully they’ll help…

  2. Mark D Seguin says:

    Just would like to say Good bye Catch family – Love you all & Pastor John & gorgeous Marti! But simply tried of asking Pastor John to do as he promised & once did record himself reading the Catch!
    PS Maybe, just maybe some can relate, I know Pastor John once could after getting others to write the Catch for him as he was recovering from his Hospital stay, yet it feels like hat 4 me daily after 2 strokes & 3 months in a coma!!!

  3. Toni Petrella says:

    I think sometimes I have trouble forgiving myself of some bad mistakes so long ago but, I should always realize God has forgiven me and all for mistakes of the past when we pray and ask for forgiveness.

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