Tuesday, March 10, 2009

We Do Not Lose Heart

I'm dealing with illness and so I found this scripture on a friend's blog to be particularly meaningful to me today.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

The verse is a reminder of several things. First, our outer man is decaying. In other words our physical life is one that progresses eventually to its end. It is good to look at that...to recognize that our physical body is, after all, mortal. I think I first recognized that when my own father died at 86 years old. He lived a long and fruitful life. But his death caused me at the age of 40 years old to recognize that I, too, am subject to death. I knew, of course, that all die. But in youth we think "old people" die and it will be "forever" before we, too, become old. At a certain point in life, however, we begin to see that "old" will come to us as well.

It was some time later at the funeral of a young marine that I looked at this again. This time we were driving through the cemetery to meet with family at the grave site. As we drove past the lines and lines of tombstones, I thought to myself that someday there would be a headstone with my name on it. It was a startling and not too comfortable revelation.

In all of this I have recognized that God is the one who provides for us through every aspect of our daily lives and I can say with a great deal of thankfulness that God has blessed me thoroughly all the days of my life. I could name some of those blessings ... a good and Godly husband, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. Family. In addition I've recognized that God has blessed me with living in a land where opportunity abounds. Why me? And why the suffering of countless others in the world? I do not know. I only know that here I am. I am blessed.

Even my illness is a blessing for it has caused me to dig deep into my relationship with God and to seek His face in prayer and in Scripture.

And so it is, that this verse in Corinthians blesses me for it is a reminder that our lives are more than physical and mortal and temporary. We belong to Christ and as such we see this "momentary, light affliction" as being to our benefit. We look to eternal things and not to temporary earthly things for our consolation. We look to Christ and the hope laid out in the gospel.


Debra said...

Beautiful post...I also have had that realization of a headstone with my own name on it. But I must admit, I love cemetaries. I love the old ones with giant trees in them, and blooming bushes in the summertime. I like looking at the really old markers, and reading the names that aren't used much any more.
In God's Word, He says our lives are like a story that is told. Isn't it strange how so many years and days and weeks can be compressed into a few words?

Laurie M. said...

I've been considering my own mortality, too, lately. Some day my hands that are always moving will be stilled. There's wisdom in remembering that. It helps us put things in perspective.