Friday, April 3

An eternal perspective brings courage and hope

Scripture: Judges 19-21, 2 Corinthians 4

2 Corinthians 4:16–18  That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Observation

In verses 7-18, Paul describes the hardships they are facing:

  • Pressed on every side by trouble—but not crushed.
  • Perplexed—but not despairing.
  • Hunted down—but not abandoned by God.
  • Knocked down—but not destroyed.
  • Suffering and living in constant danger of death—but trusting God.

They face all this for the sake of the gospel, so that God’s grace will reach more and more people and God will receive more and more glory.  All that leads to the beautiful climax of v. 16-18.

Paul is motivated by the resurrection of Jesus and the hope of our resurrection.  It makes him fearless in the face of danger.

Application

Here is a great passage to memorize during this present crisis.  Let’s take the liberty of applying it point by point to our situation.

  • We never give up.  Paul was on mission for Jesus—so are we—and refused to let anything stop him.  Danger, opposition, threat of death—none of it slowed him down.  Nor should it slow us down.  You are on mission: make disciples, love God and people.  Never give up!
  • Our bodies are dying, but our spirits are being renewed day by day. This is true all the time, even when there is not a pandemic afoot.  Our bodies are aging, dying day by day, but our spirits are being renewed and getting better!  Paul told Timothy that physical exercise is beneficial for this life, but spiritual exercise is good for this life and the one to come.  Take care of your body, by all means—but prioritize spiritual renewal!
  • Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.  How we need to remember this today!  This will pass.  As huge as this seems now, in the grand scheme of things, it will be small and short-lived.  Remind yourself of this today: this will pass; be patient.
  • They produce a glory that outweighs them and lasts forever! Then remember that this small and short trouble is producing in us something that is large, weighty and eternal!  God is at work in you!  Will you cooperate with Him?  
  • So we don’t look at the troubles we see now; we look at what can’t be seen. Change your focus.  Don’t focus just on the troubles you can see.  Focus on what God is doing inside you, the spiritual renewal that will last.  Focus on His eternal purposes and your calling as part of that.
  • For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we can’t see last forever.  This trouble will soon be gone.  How soon?  No one knows.  But in the big picture, it will be “soon”.  But what God is doing inside us, among us will last forever.  

Paul is resetting our vision from the temporal to the eternal.  He’s calling us to a larger perspective, an eternal perspective.  This perspective gives us courage and hope.  

It was this courage and hope that led Christians to care for the sick in the great plagues of the past.  In 2002, when a sniper terrorized the Washington D.C. area, it was this courage and hope that led Christians to pump gas for strangers paralyzed by fear.  

Let’s live with this eternal perspective—with courage and hope!

Prayer: Thanks for this reminder, Lord.  Please help me adjust my perspective from the small and temporary to the weighty and eternal.  And let that give me courage and hope as I’m on mission with You!