ODJ: Here’s Hope!

May 14, 2016 

READ: 2 Corinthians 4:1-9  

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed (v.8).

Amy Bleuel tried to end her life after years of mistreatment and heartbreak. She was 6 when her parents divorced and her stepmother began abusing her. At 13, she was sexually assaulted and blamed for the crime. At 18, her father committed suicide. Addiction and more personal trauma followed. Yet Amy’s faith in Jesus enabled her to survive. In time she founded a support group for people with similar struggles—The Semicolon Project. Its message is simple, but powerful: “A semicolon is used when an author could have chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you, and the semicolon is your life.”

Paul once opened up about some intense struggles in his life. He spoke of being “pressed on every side by troubles” (2 Corinthians 4:8). He was rejected and beaten and he suffered from an unspecified illness. He was hunted down, captured and jailed. Sometimes he went without food and sleep (6:5, 12:7).

Yet he wasn’t “crushed” or driven to despair. He showed that we can have hope even when we struggle because of the Holy Spirit’s presence inside of us. Living within us is the same life giving Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11). And Paul said we can “overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (15:13).

Despite the wrong she suffered, Amy Bleuel’s hopeful message today is this: “Stay strong; love endlessly; change lives.” Hope involves believing that God can draw good even from bad circumstances (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28). When we depend on His strength, getting knocked down is different from getting knocked out. Paul said, “We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:9). God provides the hope we need!

—Jennifer Benson Schuldt

365-day plan: Psalm 23:1-6

Read 2 Corinthians 1:4 and consider what good can come from suffering. 
Why do we sometimes keep our struggles to ourselves? How might God want to use a difficulty you’ve experienced to encourage someone else?