Monday, March 12, 2012

A radical perspective about a death sentence

Maybe because he wrote half the New Testament, but I've been spending a lot of time with Paul lately.

A verse that resonated with Kendra and I right from the beginning was 2 Cor 1:9. This has become our theme verse more or less.  You'll find it at the top of this page, where it's been since late April 2011.

"Indeed in our hearts we felt like we've been given the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead."
I can relate to feeling like I've been given a death sentence. That first couple weeks I could hardly breathe at times. Every once and a while it hits again and I'm brought to my knees. I have a cancer diagnosis, but what did Paul have that made him feel that way? Paul shares the depth of his struggles in 2 Cor 11: 25-28.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
I've never been shipwrecked, or spent time in the open sea. However all these circumstances led Paul to feeling the "sentence of death". That I can relate to. Maybe you can too. How is it that we maintain the correct persepective in the midst of the most difficult circumstances? What allows us to praise God in the midst of the refining fire?
If we continue to look at Paul's response he give us the answer to Living in High Definition despite any circumstance. 2 Cor 4:16-18
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 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.
As the weight of almost every negative circumstance imaginable weighed on Paul's chest his response is to call it, "light and momentary troubles..." How can he say that? He has an eternal perspective. He knows that these circumstances are achieving an eternal glory that far outweighs it all. He has chosen to fix his eyes not on the circumstances that he "sees" but on the future and the promises God has given which are "unseen".

Some days this cancer and the future feel overwhelming. I may very well have a lot of pain and suffering in my future. I may have the loss of dreams and goals and hopes. Continuing to work at being obedient and living our faith out is hard, very hard at times. Yes as bad as all this feels what must Glory be like? If it makes this hell that we are going through "light and momentary" what must that be like! Chew a moment on what could possibly make shipwrecks, beatings, imprisonments, poverty, sickness, and more seem "light and momentary". How does that not motivate us to do everything we can to honor God?

That is Living in High Definition. To see every situation and circumstance through an eternal perspective. Fixing our eyes on what is unseen, what is eternal! I can relate to Paul's feeling a death sentence, but I'm also starting to understand the incredible future that is called Heaven. It doesn't just give me peace, it drives me to serve Him more and more. 

1 comment:

Kevin Grifhorst said...

Amen brother. Great challenge. And we all have a death sentence, unless Christ returns first. My sentence just feels entirely different than what you are feeling right now. Keep pressing on friend. Praying with and for you daily.