8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
Verse 7 stated that Paul’s team carried the treasure of divine power in their ministry. Verses 8 and 9 describe their difficulty in carrying out their ministry as finite human beings. The power lies in their God, not in them as individuals. There is a vast difference between their weakness and God’s power.
In verses 8 and 9, four parallel pairs make contrasting statements about how Christians should respond to suffering. Although persecution may come in a variety of ways and can become debilitating, the power of God enables believers not to allow themselves to become crushed, operate in despair, believe they are forsaken, or be destroyed (v. 7).
Christians face four types of adversities, but all of them are qualified by a negative. Earthen vessels face four adversities with opposing conditions.
8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed;
“Hard-pressed” is from a word meaning trouble, pressure (2 Co 1:6; 7:5). “On every side” means from every direction. The team’s enemies came from all directions in opposition to the gospel. There are many ways in which Paul’s team was “hard-pressed”–“on every side”: physical, mental, spiritual, and social.
“Crushed” means confined, cornered. The gospel team never gasped for breath by being internally crushed. They continued to minister no matter what obstacle they faced. They never surrendered to the obstructions in ministry. Their adversaries never vanquished them. Although the team faced great trouble or pressure, God did not allow them to reach inextricable straits. They kept their hope in God’s plan for them.
Ease is not a dynamic of attainment.
Christians develop strength from trial. It is there that they find how God sovereignly works in their lives. Victory comes through adversity. Victims of adversity can claim victory through God’s sovereign hand.
Many pastors drop out of ministry today because of discouragement. They deem that their church has no interest in winning people to Christ or even the desire to grow in the faith. There are indeed many problems in ministry, but if God has led us into ministry, He will sustain us in it. No matter what difficulty may come in ministry, God is still in control.
There are points in ministry where no one can help himself or herself. We need God to intervene with divine enablement. Whether the issues are physical or psychological, we need God. He is always at work. He never abandons His sovereign control in our problems.