February 21, 2023
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians chapter 4 of the tremendous hardships he and his co-laborers in the Lord were facing. They were afflicted in every way. They were perplexed, persecuted, struck down, and constantly delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake (2 Corinthians 4:8-11). Despite all of this, he writes to the church at Corinth, “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.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NAS95)
While facing death and heavy persecution on a daily basis, Paul was able to say, “I do not lose heart!” How could he say this? How could he have this attitude? What can we learn from him that will give us this kind of resilient faith that can find joy in the worst of trials?
First, note that Paul focuses on the inner man, not the outer man. Though our outer man (our body) faces decay, our inner man can be powerfully renewed by the Lord. Our inner man can be glowing, even when our circumstances are very dim. Second, notice that Paul focuses on the “eternal weight of glory” that is being produced by the afflictions he faces. When we face trials, let us focus on the fact that for the faithful, those trials are producing a weight of glory for us in the heavenly realm. With this proper perspective, we can begin to see that the trials, while painful, are not simply negative events without meaning. On the contrary, they are producing something glorious and far beyond comparison. Finally, note that Paul’s focus is not on what is seen, but what is unseen. This is absolutely critical for finding God’s help and power in trials. We tend to focus only on the problems before us—the things we can see. If we would learn instead to focus on the unseen: our loving Savior, His eternal promises, and our home in heaven, we will find comfort and power from the Lord to overcome our trials.
Are you beginning to lose heart because of difficulties in your life? May the Lord help us all to focus on the inner man, the eternal weight of glory that trials can produce, and the unseen, eternal things of God.
Leave a Comment » | 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, discouragement, hope, mindset, renewal, suffering | Tagged: eternal weight of glory, hope in discouragement, hope in suffering, looking at the unseen | Permalink
Posted by Scott Colvin
March 20, 2015
When I was in college, I ran for exercise. I was not fast, and I was no competitive runner, but I ran. Anyone who has run for any distance has probably experienced this sensation. You start to hurt, you feel like you can’t go on, and you want to quit. But as you press on, you catch a second wind, and you finish the course that you set out to cover.
The definition of second wind is “a person’s ability to breathe freely during exercise, after having been out of breath.” We then use it metaphorically as “a new strength or energy to continue something that is an effort.”1
Christian living is compared to a race, and for most of us that race is a marathon (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Philippians 2:16, Hebrews 12:1-2). We must go the distance and not give up. This athletic imagery is also found in the use of victor’s crown or victor’s wreath. The Greek word is stephanos (from which we get the name Stephen). It is distinguished from the diadem, which is the royal crown. This is the imagery when Paul says:
Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8, ESV — See also 1 Cor. 9:25, Jam. 1:12, 1 Pet. 5:4, Rev. 2:10, 3:11.)
Just like my night runs in college, running the Christian race gets difficult. We may feel the need for a second wind as we face difficulties, sorrows, and temptations. Here’s a couple of my favorite “second wind” passages.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV)
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:30–31, ESV)
Are you struggling? I believe God is faithful to those who love him — just hold out for a second wind.
1New Oxford American Dictionary
Leave a Comment » | Christian living, Christian race, discouragement, encouragement, endurance, temptaitons | Permalink
Posted by Russell Holden