Perplexed But Not Driven To Despair
St. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:8 "We are perplexed but not driven to despair ... " What a wonderful theological thought that is!
Paul, in his work as Christ's ambassador, suffered every kind of opposition and abuse that his many enemies could hand out. He gives a detailed list in 2 Corinthians 11:23 - 12:10.
And in chapter one he writes, "For we don't want you to be uninformed, Brothers, of the afflictions we suffered in Asia; how we were pressed so hard, far beyond our strength, that we gave up all hope of surviving. Indeed, we bore in our own selves the sentence of death; so that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead! Who rescued us from so great a death, and will yet rescue us ... " (2 Cor. 1:8-10) But here he confidently states:
"We are perplexed, but not driven to despair."
The word "perplexed" means "to be at a loss" which is to say "unable to proceed," or "not knowing what to do, or which way to proceed." In plain English it means to be stuck! To be in a bad place with no clue as to how to return to sanity and normalcy. If you have ever felt this way you are in good company.
But Saint Paul doesn't stop there but quickly adds, "but not driven to despair."
Though he could see no way out; nor find any clear path as to how to proceed, he was not driven to despair because he knew that the Lord was his shepherd; that God would provide "the way of escape" (1 Corinthians 10:12). Or as he says in 1:10 "But God who raises the dead ... rescued us from so great a death, and will yet rescue us. "
That is our faith! That God who rescued us once by the cross will rescue us again and again. That he who has redeemed us in Christ will continue to lead us day by day, so that we are not driven to despair.
How do we access this help?
It is generously given us at the Lord's altar each Sunday. In the course of Divine Service many good things happen in us and to us. In it the Holy Spirit who "calls and gathers" us, also "enlightens" and sanctifies us. Answers are given. Strength renewed. Peace restored.
But it doesn't stop once we leave God's House. St. James writes that "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." James 1:5
So if you are perplexed don't despair. Instead come to God's House and pray, and you will learn the way to proceed whatever the challenge may be.