It’s early in the morning, and you’re excited to go to work. Why? Today you’ll find out about the promotion that you worked so hard to get. Or maybe you’re looking forward to that raise. Perhaps just looking for a job. Or you’re on your way to the doctors to get the test results. The fact is, we all receive news each day that impact us in some way. There are times when we are on the mountain tops, excited about the blessings we have received. But there are times where it seems almost impossible not to lose heart. I was going to do a lesson on Romans 8:28 this week. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” But that will have to wait till next Sunday. During my daily Bible reading this week, another text caught my attention.
Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is
perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
2nd Corinthians 4:16
Paul was serious about not losing heart and said it previously in (2nd Corinthians 4:1). I like how the NCV translates the beginning of this verse, “So we do not give up.” The definition of those words opened my eyes to the depth of what Paul was saying. The Greek word for “lose heart” or “give up” means to be utterly spiritless, to be wearied out, exhausted. Have you ever been to such a place in your walk with the Lord? Such a quest that at times seems almost impossible. During his ministry, confronted with a variety of problems that impacted him greatly, Paul’s faced many challenges to his faith. He had his “thorn in the flesh” (2nd Corinthians 12:7-10). Paul spoke with the Ephesian Elders about the “many tears and trials which happened to me” (Acts 20:19). He spoke of being “hard-pressed on every side…perplexed…. persecuted…struck down” (2nd Corinthians 4:8-9) in his service to the Lord. The verse that grabs my attention is found in Acts 14:19, where some fellow Jews “stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.” It would seem reasonable that one could lose heart, especially after looking at the life of Paul. But, his physical reality, as unfortunate as it may have been, was not his only reality.
“For our light afflictions, which is but for a moment, is working
for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory…”
2nd Corinthians 4:17
Wait! Light afflictions??? That is where our focus should be…right? In this reality. No, Paul appears to evaluate his physical reality through his future spiritual reality. The NCV says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Adversity, when viewed through a Christ-centered spiritual reality, serves a purpose in the believer’s life. “The disciple can thus endure suffering with the knowledge that” what awaits them is from more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Everything one would encounter, regardless of the suffering that is involved, will all be worth it. So, with this in mind, try to stay focused on your spiritual reality.
“…while we do not look at the things which are seen. For the things which are
seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
2nd Corinthians 4:18
This idea of not allowing the circumstances of this life to distract us from the big picture appears to be a frequent exhortation of Paul (cf. Romans 8:24-25). Those things which are “seen” are the sufferings encounter in this physical reality we live in, and in Paul’s case and maybe ours at times, is the result of being a follower of Christ. DON’T focus on these! They are TEMPORARY! Instead, allow faith to draw your attention to your spiritual reality, which we will realize one day. No more suffering! No more pain! It will all be glorious! But for now, it is unseen. Even so, it is every bit as real as what you are faced with now. Lord, increase our faith to believe in Your spiritual reality that awaits us while we live in this physical reality that seeks to distract us.