Perplexed, Not Despairing
"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;" (2Co 4:8 )
If I have to go through trials and tribulations, I sometimes think that out-and-out persecution would be the best. At least then you know what's coming at you. There is something you can see, and maybe touch, and fight back against. Not that I would actually want persecution, just that it's something you can see. There is another form of attack in the spirit that is very difficult to deal with. It is difficult because it isn't right in-your-face type of persecution. It's that "perplexed" thing I'm talking about.
It's like being in a dark room and not knowing where the light switch is. You feel about in frustration trying to find the switch you know is there, but just can't find. If you only had some light to see where the light was! The resource you need to find a solution is the very solution you are trying to find!
Or, it's like being stuck in an elevator. There is nothing you can do but wait. No matter how smart you are, or how much money you have, or how many friends you have, at that particular moment, there is nothing, nada, zip, zero that you can do. Well, maybe pick up the emergency phone and call for help. Until you find the phone doesn't work.
Or, it's like being stuck on a never-ending merry-go-round. Round, and round, and round and you get dizzier and dizzier and - Will SOMEBODY STOP THIS THING!
Yes, that's perplexed. And, if you aren't careful, it easily leads to despair. There is NOTHING YOU CAN DO. The dangerous thing about despair is that you become apathetic. If there is nothing you can do, then why try doing anything? Right?
I find that's the way I get about life from time to time. The problems are too big, too complex, and nobody really understands or wants to understand the problem much less work for a real solution. Oh, they SAY they do. Except, you and I (and some others) KNOW they don't really understand just how BAD it really is!
Eat, drink, and be merry for on the morrow we shall die. Hey man, just lay back and get used to it, go with the flow, don't worry be happy, because that's the way life is.
That's what the devil wants you to do because, once you get to despair and apathy, it's just one long slow slide to destruction. This I have experienced first hand over and over again. Problems come with no apparent solution, and then the devil starts whispering stuff about how if God really loved you He would do something about your situation, ya know. Or worse, the devil gets you to believe that you are OK, but there is no point trying to do anything that might help someone else. They probably won't listen anyway, so just cover your own behind and don't worry too much.
See, there is always something we can do. We can rely on God. We can do that because we have already laid down our own selfish desire to have it good, took up that old rugged cross and marched behind Jesus to Calvary. So, yeah, you and I probably can't do much about the world and it's evil. But what we can do is yell out in praise of God despite the circumstances because we know what Paul knew.
"For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2Co 4:16-18)
This is the thing about those who follow Jesus that seems to drive the non-believers totally crazy. They want us to join in their social reform movements and political change scenarios and economic redistribution ideologies. But, what do we do? We say, "Just gotta have more FAITH BROTHER! Just come to Jesus if you want an answer!" Yeah, they hate that and are quite perplexed by the whole thing, I think. I also think they don't understand how we can predict gloom, doom, and destruction in the near future yet not seem all that worried about it. It doesn't seem very rational until you realize that the physical, temporal things of this world fade away into oblivion but the eternal things of God transcend it all.
And so, we are perplexed but do not despair because we know that the eternal things of the spirit are what really count. Running around praising God when everything seems to be going to the dogs seems crazy by the world's standards. But, for us, it brings that constant renewal of the inward man and that chases away the despair.