Scripture: 2 Corinthians, chapters 3-6
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV) – Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Observations: Our State Health Department issued an updated order yesterday, further restricting indoor gatherings of people who are not part of the same household. While those orders exempt people who are gathering for “religious worship,” there are many other types of gatherings that are prohibited. Furthermore, everyone who attends any gathering that is permitted is required to wear a mask unless they are medically exempt. It has been eight months since the first “lockdown” restrictions took effect, and now it feels in many ways that we haven’t made any progress at all. While there are reports that several companies are nearing production of a vaccine, many people are suspicious of vaccines and may choose not to receive it.
Why am I thinking about such things in my reflections on this Scripture? Therefore we do not lose heart. As I have said a number of times before, “whenever we see the word ‘therefore,’ we need to see what it’s there for.” In this case, Paul’s therefore relates back to verses 13-15: “It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God” (emphasis added). Because we know that God raised Jesus, and that God will also raise us, we do not lose heart. No matter what happens, we know that God is in control, and we focus our attention on him.
That does not mean that we ignore what is happening around us, or that we act like it’s not real. Instead, we have a correct understanding that the things of this world – whether good or bad – are temporary.
Application: Although it’s challenging, many of us are able to keep that focus when things are not going well; we do not lose heart, because we understand that the troubles of this world are light and momentary. What is often harder is to remember that the “good things” of this world are also temporary. Learning to hold loosely to all the things of this world, whether good or bad, is a challenge – but it is also the way to peace. That is what helps us to not lose heart, and to view the problems as light and momentary. They don’t feel that way, of course, but in the light of eternity, we can remember that they are.
Prayer: Father, thank you for reminding me of your faithfulness, and that whatever happens in this world – for good or bad – pales in the light of eternity. Thank you for the peace that comes from knowing You, and the knowledge that because you raised Jesus from the dead, you will also raise us when that day comes. Bless us with your presence and your peace, that others may see the peace that only comes from you and be drawn to you. Amen.