“…we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us…
… (Afflicted) in every way (but not crushed), perplexed (but not driven to despair), persecuted (but not forsaken), struck down (but not destroyed)—always carrying out in the body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies…So we do not lose heart.
For this light and 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 4:7-10; 16-18)
Earthly verses Eternal: the battle of the “E’s”. Just like real estate, renewing our minds is a function of Perspective, Perspective, Perspective: Am I cultivating an Eternal perspective?
I use the word “cultivating” a lot. It is because the soil of my heart gets so dry and rocky in no time flat.
I have come to realize that the instance of my “conversion” doesn’t guarantee me a heart full of fertile soil; I have to continually cultivate, turn over, plow, seed, water, pull weeds, have weeds pulled, and all of that farm kind of symbolic effort all the time.
The Holy Spirit was making sure we have this record so I too “do not lose heart.”
Why would I lose heart? Simply: It is because I lose sight of the Gospel.
One of the major aspects of the Gospel is the continuation of searching out of the Gospel. Every promise, every doctrine, every teaching is rooted in the multitude facets of the Gospel. Affliction of believers is rooted in the Gospel. Being perplexed, persecuted, even being struck down is rooted in the Gospel. As was written in 2 Cor 1 “…that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God…”
My response to the Gospel is a response of continual surrender. My fight, although described in other parts of the Scripture as fight against rulers, authorities of the cosmic powers of this present age (see Eph 6:12) is also a fight against the war of the power of sin within me (see Ro 6 and 7).
Even if the fight may be huge, the fight may be intense, the fight may be crushing, the fight IS light, transient, and momentary on the eternal scale. I need to try and focus down the road, over the horizon, to take a long view, to understand that God is the foundation of all the Promises given and is the Rock of my hope.
O God, one of the primary functions of the local church is the ability to lean on one another for encouragement in time of need so folks do not lose heart and fall victim to the deceitfulness of Sin. Not only the church but individual relationships formed in the church. What a gift of the Gospel!! I neglect and take for granted this marvelous product of Your Grace towards me. Help me, my Lord, for I feel needy and forgotten. Help me cultivate an eternal perspective and fiercely hope in You. AMEN.