“But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,” 2 Cor. 6:4
In our verse today Paul is talking about trouble and how they are opportunities to prove ourselves to the Lord. It is a fact we are born into a world of trouble, and we must face them. There are many types of troubles. Some are from the Lord when he corrects us, and those who can recognize these type of trouble for what they are, change their ways and are happy for the correction. (Job 5:6-11, 17) There are other types of troubles also. Being born into this world does not exempt us from any of them.
If you are loved by the Lord you will receive trouble from the Lord. When the Lord was giving the message, to the church at Laodicea, he said “as many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.” (Rev. 3:19) These ills are not just something the Lord gives out to have some fun. When we look at the words in this statement we find a rebuke is like a reprimand, and to be chastened is to be punished for the purpose of rehabilitating us. The rebukes and chastenings come upon us because of our own failures. When you are punished by G-d, if you will turn to the Lord at times like these he is merciful and will not forget you. (Deut. 4:30, 31)
You cannot read this and make an assumption all our troubles come from the Lord, to get us on a righteous path. In our verse the last two words are “in distresses.” This translation of the Greek, “en stenochoria,” to “in distresses” does not give a good understanding of the implications of the Greek. In the Bible the Greek has been translated to English as ‘in distress’ and ‘in anguish.’ Both of these are good translations, but they fall a little short of the meaning of the Greek. The direct meaning of the Greek is a narrow place, and it is used metaphorically for a dire calamity, and extreme affliction. When we see what the Greek was it is not hard to understand Paul was talking about being trapped in trouble where only the Lord can rescue you.
Paul also used the word “necessities.” Understanding what Paul is talking about using this word, requires us to look at how this word is used in the context. The list in our verse is a list of troubles. Being a list of trouble causes us to redefine necessities in this verse. Using this context we see Paul when speaking of necessities is referring to the hardships placed on us by our need (when you are hungry and have no food it is a great hardship). Understanding it in this manner makes this a stronger term than afflictions.
The word “patience” is another word in our verse which causes us to ask what has this got to do with trouble? Again we must go to the Greek to find the answer to our question. The word ‘patience‘ is translated from the Greek word “hupomone.’ The Greek gives us a stronger sense than the word patience. The Greek is more of an endurance, perseverance, and steadfastness. This points to troubles which are not a thing of the moment, but rather troubles of a continual nature.
Today, more than ever before, it seems the earth has gained a new name, trouble. In our verse today Paul is feeling blessed and thankful for the troubles he has had to face. They have given him an opportunity to prove himself worthy to G-d. I have seen many examples of what I call cumulative oppression. This is where individuals have troubles from multiple source: for example family, government, and job troubles all at the same time causing a state of massive oppression in the individual. People like this have done many horrible things, and afterward are unable to tell you why they did it. To take an action of this sort is rolling over into the hands of Satan and serving him in their actions.
Paul saw just this type of troubles and wrote this verse for us to understand what we are to do in times of troubles. We are not to give up, but rather to face them in a Christian manner. Troubles are one of the Devil’s greatest tools. A tool to cause us to do something very sinful. But Paul shows us we are to endure these troubles, and not allow them to overtake us. In the trouble our physical body may be destroyed, but day-by-day our spirit is renewed by our overcoming. We know the little we face here will be offset by the overwhelming eternal glory, and we will be overjoyed with the knowledge we have proven ourselves to G-d.
Dear heavenly Father I am afraid. The troubles of this world are terrible and assail me every day. I thank you for getting me this far. Please stay with me, giving me the strength, courage, and wisdom to overcome my troubles. Lord my earnest desire is to prove myself to you. Please help me for I ask this in Christ’s name. Amen.
“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” 2 Cor. 4:8-11