I've noticed I have a tendency, both in living and writing, to be pessimistic and negative (or as I put it, realistic and rational!); so it is my pleasure in our jaunt through 2 Corinthians to zoom in on a passage that holds great encouragement for us in the suffering this life holds for us, both unintentional (general pain common to all people) and intentional (persecution for the cause of Christ):
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Cor 4:16-18)There are so many themes in these few verses to discuss... the transience of mortality, the proper Christian perspective on pain, the superreality of the spiritual, and what we dealt with last time, the selectivity of divinely-empowered perception. We'll touch on all these as we stroll along...
I love it when the biblical authors provide a unpolitically-correct "cup-check"; other great examples would include 1 Cor 16:13 and Heb 12:4. And to be sure, these are gender-neutral: men have no monopoly being commanded to or provided with spiritual toughness, as opposed to the insensitive, uncommunicative "manliness" that's often marketed in our culture. So the point Paul intends is to combat the natural despair we experience when things are not precisely as we would wish them; I was lamenting my own unconscious wimpyness when ill with a friend recently, and this has given me a new look at how to endure physical weakness to succeed in glorifying God through my words and deeds (especially helpful today!). So all that to say: Man Up!
|"Death cannot stop true love..."|
But the breakdown of our bodies, and by extension every other trial, affliction and discomfort, is no excuse to descend into the doldrums; on the contrary, the loss of everything our world prizes (youth, strength, energy, and most of all, life!) is merely a tool used by God to fix our attention on what God prizes: an immeasurably rich, potent measure of the glory that belongs to Him! If we weigh the pain possible here and now, even in Paul's life which was far beyond what 99.9% of us will experience, it simply doesn't compare to what will be ours in Christ for all eternity. Only by focusing on what's to come can we enjoy it now.
|Yes, the stove is hot! Once is enough...|
P.S. During the course of writing, the nurse called and notified us we don't have strep in the technical sense, but just a nasty flu. I feel better already.
Photo courtesy of tychay and eric pas d'accent