Summary: Stress and Disappointment come into every life. Christians are provided a powerful response to such stressors, and this powerful response is revealed in Paul's review of his own life.

“We have this treasure in clay jars to show that its extraordinary power comes from God and not from us. In every way we’re troubled but not crushed, frustrated but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed. We are always carrying around the death of Jesus in our bodies, so that the life of Jesus may be clearly shown in our bodies. While we are alive, we are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be clearly shown in our mortal bodies. And so death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

“Now since we have the same spirit of faith in keeping with this Scripture: ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’ we also believe and therefore speak. We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us to God together with you. All this is for your sake so that, as his grace spreads, more and more people will give thanks and glorify God.

“That’s why we are not discouraged. No, even if outwardly we are wearing out, inwardly we are being renewed each and every day. This light, temporary nature of our suffering is producing for us an everlasting weight of glory, far beyond any comparison, because we do not look for things that can be seen but for things that cannot be seen. For things that can be seen are temporary, but things that cannot be seen are eternal.” [1]

Do you ever get discouraged? Okay, that’s a silly question. Of course you get discouraged. It is inevitable that each of us will experience a measure of discouragement from time-to-time. Our discouragement may at times become so severe that we become despondent! At times, we may want to quit, give up because of some emotional malaise that drags us down or because we are physically worn to the point of exhaustion. Discouragement can be debilitating, and it is certainly contagious. If we permit ourselves to be discouraged, we know that others will become discouraged.

You try to be a positive person, but a phone call telling you that your children are failing their courses and not completing their homework throws your day into disarray. You know you will have to take time with your children to help get them back on track; and you really don’t have the time that will be required. Moreover, because they are children, you will experience the inevitable push-back as they argue that they are really, really trying. They are trying, alright, just not in the way they would like you to think. What is a parent to do? How can you be positive when your children are struggling?

You are rushed for time because you promised to complete a major project that is due for work this morning. Just as you are rushing out the door, your son phones to remind you that you promised to be at his school that afternoon to see him receive an award for his academic achievement. You suddenly remember that he told you two weeks ago; but how can you juggle two assignments at once? Something has to give; someone will be disappointed, and more than likely it will be you. How are you to avoid being discouraged when you try to succeed, but life keeps on intruding?

Your brother is squabbling with your sister, and though you try to remain aloof from the festering internecine battles, you are being inexorably drawn into the conflict. You see the validity of the argument presented by either side, but when you try to counsel your siblings to be considerate to one another, both turn on you, accusing you of taking the other’s side. You are exhausted just trying to continue loving those to whom you are closest. It is hard not to be discouraged when things are turning out this way.

You haven’t worked in over eight weeks, and now the province announces that businesses must open only according to a process outlined by people who have never worked in the business world. They have a guaranteed paycheque paid with taxes that have been taken from you and the millions of other workers. You don’t know when you’ll be able to begin living normally again, or what normal will be!

Just as you are beginning to cope with problems that leave you drained, the preacher brings a message pointing us to what the Apostle has written in this Second Letter to the Saints in Corinth. Or you stumble onto the passage in your Bible reading one day, and as you read those words that affirm our lack of disappointment you question what you just read. How can a follower of the Master stay positive when her world is crumbling? What can the saint of God do when the demands on his energies and resources are constant and incessant? How shall we stand when our strength is gone?

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