Do not lose heart

Have you ever noticed God impressing upon your mind the same text of Scripture during the same time frame? Maybe you’ll read a passage during your personal devotions, and then you’ll hear a radio minister preach on it or you’ll hear the words of it in a song.

For the last two Sundays, God has been impressing 2 Corinthians 4:15-18 upon my mind. My husband and I heard it two Sundays ago, when the minister who administered our baby grandson’s baptism touched on it. Following that service, we hurried to our own church where we were scheduled to teach catechism classes. We arrived just in time to hear that portion of Scripture read again. (Yes, that’s twice in one Sunday morning at two different services in two different churches!)

Our pastor’s sermon focused on verses 7-12 that Sunday, but this past Sunday morning he preached on verses 13-18. Before you read verses 15-18, which have had so much meaning for me lately, you must understand that I spent several hours in the emergency room and a day in the hospital between these two Sunday mornings.

I like the ESV rendering of this section of scripture because it seems more personal:

For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

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 Corinthians 4:15-18, ESV).

The NIV refers to “our light and momentary troubles” and contrasts that which is seen as “temporary” compared to the unseen which is eternal. These verses mean much to someone struggling with pain and uncertainty.

We know so little of what God is really doing with our afflictions. We grow discouraged with physical weakness and with what appears to be the continuing triumph of evil. But no matter how discouraged or depressed we get about pain or malaise, about falsehood or manipulation, we must remember that God controls even those. No discomfort can occur, no disease can degenerate, no lie can be spread, or poison can permeate, unless God allows it–for now–and for a reason.

Lord’s Days 9 & 10 of the Heidelberg Catechism express God’s sovereignty so well. Answer 26 makes the very personal confession that the “eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” who created all things from nothing “still upholds and rules them by his eternal counsel and providence” and is “my God and Father.” It concludes:

   I trust him so much that I do not doubt
he will provide
whatever I need
for body and soul,
and he will turn to my good
whatever adversity he sends me
in this sad world.

   He is able to do this because he is almighty God;
he desires to do this because he is a faithful Father.

Question 27 asks, “What do you understand by the providence of God?” It beautifully answers:

A. Providence is
the almighty and ever present power of God
by which he upholds, as with his hand,
heaven
and earth
and all creatures,
and so rules them that
leaf and blade,
rain and drought,
fruitful and lean years,
food and drink,
health and sickness,
prosperity and poverty—
all things, in fact, come to us
not by chance
but from his fatherly hand.

God is sovereign. He is in control. And in 2 Corinthians 4, he assures us that our afflictions are for our sakes. But not only for our good, but for his glory!

How do our hearts hope? They hope in knowing that our afflictions somehow benefit us while making grace abound to others, which increases thanksgiving, all to the glory of God. We can take heart in knowing that, although our outer selves are wasting away, our inner selves are being renewed daily.

I cling to the promise that my light and momentary affliction is preparing for me an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison  It’s easy to be dismayed by present experience, the things we see and hear, but we need to remember to look to the things that are unseen. The things we see are as transient and fleeting as the shadow of a passing cloud, but the things unseen are as eternal as the Son in which they shine.

May God bless and encourage you today!

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