“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
The end of the year is quickly approaching, and the hours left are very few. Often during this time of year, I find myself in a contemplative, and a bit melancholy, state of mind. The setting of the calendar year forces me to take a look back, and I can’t help but be reminded of my shortcomings as I think about all of those things I said I was going to do but didn’t. When I take the time to reflect, I begin to see my frailty as a human being more clearly and am reminded of just how much I need God and His grace.
As Christians, we are not promised an easy life. We all sin, make mistakes, and fall off track. The good news is that our struggles will not last forever. We have mere minutes to toil, but eternity to enjoy and we must not lose hope. We can take comfort in Paul’s words to the church of Corinth in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 where he encourages us to, “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.”
Like the people in the church of Corinth, we need to stay true to the purpose that is laid out for us in the gospel. And similar to the church of Corinth, there are those who will try to sway us from the truth by creating division among us. The devil knows how to distract us. In fact, he’s a master at it. But God’s power is stronger, because light always overcomes darkness. Each of us must decide which of these we will fix our eyes on—the gloominess of our momentary troubles, or the magnificence that awaits us in heaven.
If we are truly following Jesus, then the work we do will be undermined by the world. There will be times when we will be misunderstood; and we will face moments of insecurity, disappointment, and despair. At the same time, we need to recognize that running after the things of this world blinds our eyes from the truth. Loving honor, status, personal gain, and money destroys our purpose. Even the love of the knowledge of this world can serve to harm us if it is our primary focus. The world tells us that these are the things that satisfy, but what we truly need is to be quiet and spend time in God’s presence. Only then can we truly know God and His desires for us.
Paul’s faith came with a price. Outwardly he faced opposition and persecution, yet he did not lose heart. He knew that his troubles were only momentary, which he believed to the extent that he was able to encourage others to persevere as well. Paul relied on God’s strength to keep going, and we must do the same. The question we all need to ask ourselves is whether we are willing to die to our own ambitions for the sake of the gospel, because our level of willingness to surrender determines the extent to which God can work within us. God doesn’t force Himself upon us. The choice to obey is ours, and we are responsible for it.
Let’s be brave, set aside the things of this world, and take our blinders off. Imagine the amazing things that could happen if we all spent time in quiet, listening to what God would have for us, and asking Him to help us see clearly as we embark upon a New Year.
Be still, but be bold. Don’t give up. Heaven is coming.