“Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart… But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from 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;” (2 Corinthians 4:1, 7-9).
While serving as a parish pastor, there were Bible passages and verses that I leaned on for pastoral care visits and pastoral emergencies. Psalm 23 and Psalm 121 for times of comfort and illness. John 14:1-6 for times of grief. 2 Corinthians 4 for times of deep pain and bewilderment.
St. Paul reminds the Corinthians and all of us engaged in this ministry that we do not lose heart. Though I’ll admit that there are moments when we can fully relate to Paul’s litany of hardships: afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down. But then there are moments when we can fully lean into Paul’s litany of promises: not crushed, not driven to despair, not forsaken, and not destroyed. I appreciate Paul’s commitment to the truth that on this side of heaven, there will be deep pain and bewilderment… and there will be faith, hope, and love. And it is God’s promise of faith, hope, and love that helps me to not lose heart. God’s Word reminds me of God’s promise.