2 CORINTHIANS 4:8-9
(8) We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; (9) persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; (ESV)
Those who proclaim the Gospel of Christ may experience all kinds of pressures from without and within. Paul says, We are afflicted in every way… Frequently, when we preach Christ, we find ourselves completely hemmed in from all directions by those who oppose the Gospel message. Indeed, their desire is to crowd us out or to so press in upon us and coerce us that they may forever silence the Gospel message. Nevertheless, by God’s grace, they do not and cannot succeed in crushing us or in hindering us from proclaiming Christ.
Even so, the apostles faced these and many other arduous situations daily, often giving rise to perplexity and concern in the minds of God’s servants. Perhaps Paul’s chief concern, however, was not so much for himself, but for the churches. Should Paul’s enemies succeed in their wicked endeavours, the churches of Christ might be prevented from hearing God’s Word. Furthermore, those to whom God had sent the apostle to proclaim the Gospel of eternal salvation might no longer hear this glorious message.
At times, therefore, Paul was greatly perplexed when he considered the magnitude of the task and the extent of the opposition and hostility to the Gospel and to the Gospel messengers. Yet, in spite of all these concerns, the apostle did not despair. He knew that the sometimes vicious and violent attacks of men could not succeed against or overcome the purposes and power of Almighty God. God’s Word and God’s purposes would prevail, despite the evil intentions and purposes of wicked men and women.
In the first part of verse 9, Paul writes, [we are] persecuted, but not forsaken… So great, at times, was the hostility to and opposition against the Gospel messengers that Paul concedes that he is sometimes tempted to flee from such cruel suffering. Yet, in spite of such intense persecution from the enemies of the cross, the apostle has absolutely no desire to desert his ground. He remains absolutely assured that God will not allow him to be crushed beneath his adversities, nor will the Lord ever forsake his faithful servant. Thus, for as long as it is humanly and reasonably possible, the apostle intends to remain in each province preaching Christ until God has accomplished his purposes, and regardless of the persecution. Only if it becomes completely impossible for him to continue without exposing his hearers and himself to the most extreme danger, will the apostle heed the words of the Saviour: ‘When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next…’ (Matt. 10:23 ESV)
Paul concluded verse 9 by writing, [we are] struck down, but not destroyed. Such was the extent of opposition to Christ and his Gospel by certain people, that Paul and other Gospel messengers often found themselves struck down temporarily by the force of their adversaries. Like a wrestler who throws his opponent forcefully to the ground, so Paul found himself thrown down by his opponents. Yet, despite these moves and blows by his opponents, the apostle was not defeated. Although, at times, wounded and bruised by his experiences, he rose again to continue the fight—reinvigorated by the promises and word of God. Paul may have been sorely wounded, but he would not and could not be destroyed—for his times were in God’s hands. (Ps. 31:15)
Thus, Paul and his companions found themselves exposed continually to the very real dangers of serious injury or death. And yet, this was part of the sufferings that God had called Paul to endure for the sake of Christ’s name.
So it is for all those who belong to the Lord Jesus. We have been called not only to believe on him but also to suffer for the sake of his name. Nevertheless, he is faithful. He will never forsake or abandon those whom he loves and whom he has purchased with his own precious blood. Despite our afflictions, sorrows and trials, we are his – and his we shall forever remain.