Suffering? Part 6
“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.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV).
As a child, years seem to take forever. As a teen we think we’ll never be forty! In our twenties and thirties, we feel as if we’ll go on exactly as we are forever. We have a sense of the immortal.
But, once we’re in our fifties or sixties, our time remaining is far less than our time previously lived, and life feels as if it flies by. It’s a matter of perception.
In trial, we must remember that we are heading toward God and that our time on this earth is momentary in light of this eternity. On a line that extends without end in each direction, our entire lifetime on earth is a small dot on the line. That is reality, regardless of where we are on the age spectrum.
The body we live in is a tent, a jar of clay. It is not our permanent dwelling. It is fragile, can shatter, and does, constantly changing from conception to death. We were once a cluster of cells, and, once we reach adulthood, aging relentlessly deteriorates our frames.
2 Corinthians 4:16-5:8 compares our current physical state to nakedness. In light of how we will be clothed in the world to come, we are now essentially naked.
But one day, the Lord will clothe us with glorious bodies like his.
“And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control” (Philippians 3:20b-21).
Since this is our destination, how do we then live?
With this perspective, the deterioration of our bodies feels less problematic and affliction light and momentary. We see it as preparation for the world to come. We cease to look to the condition of our health for satisfaction and fulfillment. It is temporary.
Life in this body is transient. Its destruction becomes less bothersome when our minds are fixed on the eternal. We are then able to be productive in the time that remains.
We continue to serve though our arms are enfeebled. We continue to work though our knees may be weak. Even though we accomplish far less now that our strength is gone and our bodies weakened, it’s the love of the Savior that compels us. We are his hands and feet on the earth, and we want to live out his purpose until we are no longer able.
Our eyes are on Jesus and the eternal. This is our focus, not the temporary.
The last six posts were drafted in rapid succession over the course of a day as I lamented before the Lord. When I began writing I was overwhelmed by this autoimmune disorder that destroys my health.
What did God want of me? How could I continue to serve him in this condition?
To encourage myself with truth, and therefore to encourage you, I wrote my way through the theological implications of living in suffering. After meditating on truth (and after editing these posts repeatedly over the past month), I arrive at this point with a light heart, encouraged in my Savior.
He alone knows what purpose my days serve. I do not.
He alone knows how to transforms me into the woman he intends me to be. I do not.
He alone knows what is necessary to teach me to have a grateful heart. I do not not.
He alone knows how he intends to use my life to bring glory to God. I do not.
He is the Potter. I am merely the clay that comprises the fragile pot.
So, in this I yield. I surrender.
I will trust him, though he slay me (Job 13:15.) Job-like trials require Job-like solutions.
God be praised in any outcome!
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10).
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