Life is hard.
We have seasons of life being “easy,” but by and large, life is hard.
Why? Because the reality is that we live in a world that is broken. It’s a marvelous and beautiful world, but there is brokenness everywhere. In Christianity, we call this “sin.” Because humanity has set aside it’s identity as image bearer of the Creator we experience sin and brokenness. We were made for Eden. Deep down in the core of our being we are drawn to the beautiful and the good because that is who we are. Yet, as a result of our choosing idolatry and self over the worship of God, this world, within which we live, is no longer perfect.
We long for a better world. In the face of struggle, strife, and toil it would be easy to lose heart.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “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 Cor 4:16-18)”
Paul’s life was marked by pain, sadness, heartbreak, and persecution. He experienced real tragedy. When he writes this it is not coming from a position of privilege. He was not a man who lived a charmed life. This was written by someone who truly knew the pain of life.
He highlights three key things that helped him not to lose heart. First, he embraced an inner reality that allowed him to be “renewed day by day.” I think this inner reality is based in what he had just written in the previous paragraph, “It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. (2 Cor 13-14)” The inner reality that he knew was that of the risen Jesus. Because Jesus was raised he knew that he too would be raised. This allowed them to renewed every day, in a sense, a daily resurrection.
Second, he looked toward glory. Knowing that there was an “eternal glory” that awaited him he saw the troubles of his life as momentary and light. The word “glory” is closely related to “heavy.” Paul’s play on words here draws his readers into his reality. What awaits him (and us) is substantial and weighty, glory. The here and now in comparison is light and momentary. This reminds me of the way the Preacher in Hebrews describes Jesus as he faced the cross, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb 12:2b-3)”
Finally, Paul looked at existence in light of eternity. He understood that there was more to existence than what he saw in the moment. Eternity awaits each of us. When we live in light of eternity it provides for us perspective. Compared to eternity this life is but a blink of an eye. We can endure the pain and brokenness because we know of an eternity where pain, sorrow, and death is no more. In that land we will live forever.
Life is indeed hard. But, because of the resurrection, the hope of glory, and the perspective of eternity we can endure and not lose heart.