“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. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Our physical lives are an arc, and from the moment we are born we are growing, developing, strengthening…until we’re not. And then we’re aging, wasting, and decaying. The science of the how, and the timeline of the when are complex, but the reality is inescapable. Outwardly we are wasting away. Yet all the while, if traversing those days, months, and years hand-in- hand with Christ and His word, we are being renewed from within.
In our homeschool, my children and I were working on memorizing the above verses when my beautiful, vibrant mother was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. We witnessed firsthand the outward wasting away of her physical body while inwardly she was renewed by the hope and strength of her savior. Ten months later she was with Him, and today, exactly two years later, I still take comfort in knowing that she is enjoying that eternal glory and that her pain and suffering were indeed light and momentary when compared to eternity.
A few of the Apostle Paul’s “light and momentary troubles” shared in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 included whippings of 39 lashes (five times), beatings with rods (three times), being stoned, shipwrecked (three times), adrift at sea, frequent journeys, all types of dangers from rivers to robbers, hunger and thirst, cold and exposure, as well as the daily pressure and anxiety for the spiritual well-being of his newly planted churches.
Yet Paul’s eyes were not on the misery of these hardships, but on what they were achieving in him. They were teaching him, training him, increasing his faith, and allowing him to participate in the sufferings of Christ. They were creating in him a vision of the intangible, unseen, eternal reality of that future glory. Paul wrote,
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”Romans 8:17-18
As humans in physical bodies living in a specific time and place it is easy to become trapped in this tangible, temporal world. We allow circumstances to define us, to defeat us. We easily forget that there is a whole unseen spiritual realm in which God is on His throne, daily offering His grace and strength to us and that the finished work of Christ on the cross means the victory has been secured.
“Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”Romans 8:34-35,37
I don’t always feel like a conqueror. Outwardly I am wasting away. I had a total hip replacement at 41 and visit the chiropractor often. I am wearied by Covid-19, destructive riots, divisive politics, a faltering economy, churches not meeting, and school not beginning this fall. I very much need the reminder to not lose heart and to fix my eyes on the unseen and eternal. I desperately need to be renewed day by day. And I look with hopeful longing to that promised eternal glory that will far surpass it all.
Kara is the wife of 20+ years to Caleb and the mother of 5, including 2 through the miracle of adoption. She and her family live on 8 acres, raising cows, goats, chickens, and turkeys, as well as a large garden. She is passionate about hospitality, mothering, the intersection of farm-life and faith, and finding beauty in the commonplace. She enjoys her classics bookclub, walking her country road, and traveling with her large family. She occasionally blogs at goodgiftsfarm.com, but you can keep up with her more regularly on Instagram @good_gifts_farm.
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Oh my Kara, such powerful words! I too long for the day when we will no longer be wasting away, but permanently made new in heaven with Jesus. But you said it so well, until then, we can be renewed for this journey on earth. Thank you for sharing.