We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. (NLT)
Those of us who know and love Winnie the Pooh will recognise the characters of Tigger, the bouncy tiger, and Eeyore the mournful donkey. Amongst the followers of Jesus there are both “Tiggers” and “Eeyores”. We have different temperaments and need to beware of trying to persuade others to imitate our own temperaments. God made us unique after all.
When Paul was writing to the Corinthians, he wasn’t exactly jumping for joy. Life had thrown a lot at him and he wasn’t going to hide that fact. But at the same time, he recognised that God hadn’t left him; he saw the good that was coming from the bad. Elsewhere in the same letter he says he is sorrowful yet always rejoicing.
This reminds us that when troubles afflict us, when our worlds no longer make much sense, we can both admit that and yet find hope. We don’t have to become bubbly optimists who whistle a happy tune and call it “faith”. We can both have faith and experience struggle. We can both have hope for the future and yet be concerned for the present.
We need not beat ourselves up for not being cheery tigers. Gloomy donkeys are also part of Jesus’ team. We can be sad yet joyful. Sad at what life throws at us, glad that God is with us. Joy is glad confidence in the goodness of God.