Hard Pressed :: By John Lysaught

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10).

You ever feel pressed, perplexed, persecuted, or struck down by people? I have. It’s hard. It seems like some days are just too hard, too much working against us in our walk with Jesus. Satan attacks us from every possible angle you can imagine. He is always there waiting to pounce on us, to tear us away from Jesus. He is always there to keep people away from Jesus using every trick he has in his handbag to keep people from coming to Christ and being part of the plan of salvation.

We are pressed on all sides. We must be strong in these times. The enemy is working harder than ever to keep people from Christ. The world is pressing on us in every possible way. Satan is using the world and worldly people against us to keep us from our calling─to be with Jesus. Satan uses the world to entice us away through media, through unsaved people, and anti-Christ’s that twist the word of the Lord to try to make us think that the Word is irrelevant and useless in today’s world.

We are pressed but not crushed. We can overcome the wiles of Satan by being strong in Lord Jesus. Through our faith we can overcome the pressing of evil that is upon us. We can overcome anything that Satan throws in our path. To do this we need to pray always, seek the Lord daily, and renew our relationship with Jesus every day, every hour, every minute of our lives. By doing this, keeping Jesus and his commands in the forefront of our minds, we can overcome and not be swayed by the tricks and turns that Satan throws at us. Jesus is stronger than Satan and His promises of overcoming the world and Satan are true. We need to just put our trust in Christ and hold on to our faith.

We face persecution. It may be subtle, or it may be obvious, but we are all facing persecution of the church today. We are being marginalized by the world, as a fringe group of fanatics that won’t conform to what the world is saying is now normal: gay marriage, abortion, worshiping other god’s (entertainment industry, hobbies, etc.). When things are happening in our country, in our communities, in our churches that are contrary to what the Lord has written in His Word; that is subtle persecution of true believers and followers of Jesus Christ. When the government says that gay marriage is now the law of the land, we are being persecuted. When late term abortions are part of the norm, we are being persecuted. This is because when we disagree with these types of government policies and laws, we are considered in a negative way and are told we are bigots or hateful.

Then there are the obvious persecutions we face. When we are treated differently (negatively) because of our faith, such as when we proclaim to others what we believe and are put down because of what we believe, we are being persecuted. It isn’t so bad in this country because we are not being killed or sent to prison for our faith, yet. Nonetheless, when we are being treated negatively or marginalized for our faith, we are still being persecuted, just not to the level that some face in other countries. How long will it be until true believers are marginalized in this country to the extent that we face imprisonment or bodily harm? Just look at the military and how they now say Christians are a threat to the military’s good order and discipline, and how expressing Christian beliefs to others can lead to prosecution in the military. How long until that spreads to mainstream America?

Know though that we are not abandoned. Christ is with us always, even in the face of persecution, whether subtle or obvious. Christ is our Rock that we can stand on to be assured that we are saved with salvation through grace to eternity. Christ in you works with you to help you through the persecutions you face. Regardless of if it is a bigoted attitude toward Christians, or being killed or imprisoned for our faith, Christ is with us and we are assured of our salvation. There is nothing to fear then because He is with us always and will be the blanket wrapped around us to protect us and be with us in times of trouble. We will face trouble, but be assured Christ is with us during those times.

Being struck down is tough. I think we have all had a situation where, because of our faith, we have been knocked down emotionally and spiritually. This is especially true when we try to share our faith with an unbeliever. It is not our job to change their hearts, but we are called to introduce Jesus to the unsaved. The vileness of some people can be very hurtful and disheartening. Most people not interested in Jesus are nice about it to me, but I have heard the vileness of some people that curse the name of Jesus because of their cold hearts. We are human and we hurt when we are turned away or shunned because of our faith. God is with us though, even in these situations.

Don’t lose heart because even if you feel you are struck down, beat down, or set apart because of your faith; we cannot be destroyed if we are in Christ. People cannot destroy us, nor can Satan working through the world and unbelievers destroy us. They may hurt our feelings but they cannot destroy our faith and hope in Christ Jesus. Jesus is stronger and more powerful than any evil force in the universe. We should not lose heart when we are struck down at times by others but we should be made stronger in our faith when we face adversity.

Adversity is part of being a Christian. This is something we should embrace, for it will make us stronger in Christ Jesus. For the unbeliever, if you are not for Christ then you are against us. If you are against us, then you are of the world and support the works of Satan. You can switch teams, so to speak, and be on the side of Jesus and eternity with Him in heaven. To be with Jesus is not easy in the world we live in, but the troubles we face are minimal as compared to the trouble you will have if you choose the world (and Satan) and spend eternity in hell instead of heaven with Jesus.

Jesus is the promise of salvation through grace. Believe in Him, commit yourself to Him, and follow Him, and your eternity will be heaven, not hell. What you, as an unbeliever may not know is that God sent His only Son, Jesus, into the world to be the sacrifice for all humanity’s sins. That means He was sacrificed to cover my sins, your sins, and everyone else’s sin for those that believe He is the Son of God that died on a cross for us. This may be hard to grasp, but it is truth and can be counted on as truth. If you believe in Jesus and put your trust in Him (heart, soul, mind) then when judgment comes, you can be assured that your sins are already forgiven and heaven awaits your soul.

If you choose not to believe in Jesus, you will die, just like everyone else, but the difference is that you will be accountable for your sins and will not have an advocate for you when you face the judgment seat of God. You will go to hell. This may sound harsh to you, but it is truth: Jesus equals eternal life in heaven, and not having Jesus means eternal damnation in hell.

Choose Jesus my friends. If you are playing church and don’t really believe in Jesus, it is time to choose. If you don’t go to church but want eternal life in heaven, now is the time to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior. You cannot earn heaven, for it is a gift of God that was given by grace through the sacrifice of Christ if you believe on His name, His life, His death, and His resurrection.

Find a church that teaches the foundations found in the Bible. Study the Bible and seek the Lord for yourself. More importantly, pray to God for revelation and assurance that Jesus is the real deal. Cry out to the Lord that you want eternity with Him in heaven and pray for Jesus to be part of your life, the main part of your being and life.

Being part of the world (and Satan) isn’t easy. With Jesus, you will face trouble in the world, but eternity with Him is worth it. I pray that those reading this that are not saved are touched by the Holy Spirit and gain a desire to seek the Lord and to learn about and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Choosing Jesus is a journey worth the trip. You will be changed and will see the world differently from how you do now. You will see the world with Satan for what he is: a deceiver. With Jesus you will feel a love that is indescribable. Choose wisely, for your eternity is at stake.

God Bless