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Troubled But Not Losing Heart

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
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. (NIVUK)

From conversion to martyrdom, Paul's lifestyle was a catalogue of troubles punctuated by episodes of God's grace, bringing salvation to new believers and joy to the churches (2 Corinthians 4:15). It was a protracted period of dying (2 Corinthians 4:7-11), but the apostle did not give up. His confidence was secured by the resurrection of Jesus which assures the resurrection of every believer (1 Thessalonians 4:14). In other words, Paul was looking beyond his immediate suffering to the glorious day when he would be with Christ.

That eternal perspective did not lessen his sufferings, but prevented them from being a reason to stop serving Christ. The duration of his trouble was infinitely minute compared to eternity; their heaviness was infinitely light compared to the awesome weightiness of being in God's presence. That is why Paul refused to allow personal hardship, persecution or the pain of dysfunctional churches to be his point of focus (2 Corinthians 6:4-10). If he had, his mission would have been over, his commission nullified; and Satan would have won.

Paul's heart was so full, anticipating the return of Christ as King and Judge, that he did whatever he could to win souls for Jesus (1 Corinthians 9:19-22). Like a mother in labour, he was willing to endure any pain so that others might be born again (John 16:21; Galatians 4:19; 2 Timothy 2:10). Even though the suffering was real, and at times almost unbearable (2 Corinthians 11:23-29), Paul's horizon was not personal comfort or even the grave, but heaven. His view of being in Christ's presence was the reason to endure, and in the meantime Christ's grace was sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

Many who read this will have been stretched almost to breaking point at times. Do we give up on Christ? If we do, what will we say when we meet Him in the Last Day, and what will He say to us (Luke 9:26)? No: true believers live trusting what they cannot see, because they know the One who has promised (James 1:12). They set their horizon in line with Jesus and not on the personal comforts of this dying world. So, do not be preoccupied by your own pain and lose heart; 'fix your eyes on Jesus … who, for the joy set before Him, endured …' (Hebrews 12:2). It is the only the way of blessing for you and for others, through you.

Gracious and Glorious God. Thank You for enabling me to trust Jesus even though I cannot see Him. Forgive me for being more concerned to be satisfied by the world around me, than to satisfy You by serving You - despite the troubles of this life. Help me to fix my eyes upon Jesus so that I will not lose heart, lose my eternal focus, lose my spiritual purpose and your blessing in and through me. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams