“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 NIV
This scripture has seen me through some of my most trying days. I grew up in a religiously “split” home. My mother was very religious. She made my four siblings and I get on our knees every night and pray together. She prayed over us every single morning before we left for school. Religious phrases were in most sentences she spoke. It drove us crazy as kids. My father, on the other hand, was not very religious. He professed his faith and believed in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus but he just wasn’t into religion or religious tradition AT ALL. Growing up this way was very confusing to me. I was raised to think my father was “less” of a Christian than my mother since he didn’t do all the “outward things” she did. It wasn’t until much later (after I married) that I realized the danger of “religion” and how wonderful of a father I had grown up with. He helped those less fortunate and was an amazing provider for his wife and five children. He never bragged about his good deeds, but his actions were so loving.
In 2005, after I graduated college, my dad was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. This was one of the most difficult times in my life because he’s always been the leader in our home. My mom and his children depended on him so much and he tried so hard to deny that anything was wrong. At the time, I still didn’t understand how wonderful of a father he had been. Because we were raised to feel like he wasn’t enough of a Christian, we didn’t always treat him with the respect and honor he deserved. It wasn’t until after he could no longer remember who I was, that I realized, with the help from my amazing husband, how dishonoring and disrespectful I had been. This made me feel an immense amounts of guilt, hurt, and shame. I even went through a period of being angry with my mom for raising us this way. It made me despise any site of religion or the idea that we can be more “Christian” than another believer. I was devastated that I would never have the chance to tell my dad I was sorry for treating him badly all those years.
I cried out to God with my feelings of shame and guilt and confusion and repentance. I sought out the truth about what it truly meant to be a Christian. It was at that point that I got the reassurance that I was forgiven, so I could forgive myself. I forgave my mom and realized that she, like my dad, only did the best she could and that we are all constantly learning how to be better stewards of the amazing grace our Father in heaven so freely gives us.
As we overcome our struggles, the picture of how Christ overcame is evident to a world that so desperately needs that hope.
Prayer: God, your word says “we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” Because Jesus, You overcame death, I can overcome any struggle I might face, from shame and guilt to religion and comparison. I cry out to you today with the heavy struggles I’m facing and I hand them over to you. Thank you for carrying my burdens and for giving me Your amazing grace daily, so that I can live fully in Your freedom. I love you, in Jesus Name, Amen.