Hello neighbors! It’s Angie again. Thanks for spending a few minutes with me today as we look at 2 Corinthians, Chapter 4. This particular chapter is jam-packed with so many amazing truths! I could have taken weeks to unpack it all. By alas, I only have about six minutes, so let’s get this party started!
Occasionally, I receive a package labeled, “Fragile: Handle with Care.” The label, of course, is a warning sign to UPS, FedEx, or the post office that if they are not careful, they could damage what’s inside the package.
This past year, as we have navigated the difficulties of Covid restrictions, a Presidential election, conspiracy theories, and isolation (just to name a few), I have often consider putting a “FRAGILE. HANDLE WITH CARE” label on myself. I’m not on the verge of daily tears or feel the overwhelming weight of depression or anxiety—it’s more like I’ve been on a nonstop emotional roller coaster ride for 14 straight months. Maybe some of you can relate?
One minute I’m feeling great…this ride is bumpy, but fun. The next minute I’m plunged into a twist and turn that I didn’t see coming and it takes my breath away. Often it’s because someone said something critical, harsh, or unfair…at that point, I’m sadly reminded of how weary we have all become, both giver and receiver. I just want the ride to stop.
For me, that is a Holy Spirit reminder of how the tongue can be a dangerous weapon, and a careless word said by me can make it a lousy day for someone else. What if everyone wore a "Fragile: Handle With Care" label on their foreheads to remind us all how easily we can hurt one another, even without knowing it? Our intent might not be to hurt, but the truth is…hurt people hurt people.
Many aren’t just emotionally fragile right now, but also spiritually fragile. It is not that folks might abandon their faith tomorrow and become atheists, but the spiritual struggle is legit: where is God in this pandemic, where is my community, where is His still small voice, where are the people who assume positive intent, where is hope, faith, love?
Some in Corinth were in a spiritual struggle too. In Chapter 4, starting with verse 16, Paul’s reminder is a good lesson for us too: “We never give up. Our bodies are gradually dying, but we ourselves are being made stronger each day. These little troubles are getting us ready for an eternal glory that will make all our troubles seem like nothing. Things that are seen don’t last forever, but things that are not seen are eternal. That’s why we keep our minds on the things that cannot be seen.”
Paul starts with our condition, our weakness—our bodies are decaying, dying. It would be easy to stop there and stay planted in death. Paul glances at our weakness, but he stares at the source of our strength. And Paul should know…he wasn’t just guessing about how to overcome struggles, the dude had a PHD in suffering.
Are you feeling fragile right now? If so, you aren’t alone, friend. Paul reminds us that our temporal bodies might be wasting away as we endure these challenges, but inside…oh yes, inside the great, all-encompassing, powerful love of God is being poured out through the Holy Spirit, renewing us every single day.
Today might feel like a twist and turn that will never end, but it will. Today might feel like another deep dive into the pool of frustration and anger, but Paul reminds us…these are light, momentary troubles. How do we keep walking when it feels like day after day is a never ending sea of hard, longsuffering, stinky tofu yuck?
By renewing our focus every single day.
Corrie Ten Boom said, “Look within and be depressed. Look without and be distressed. Look to Christ and be at rest.”
Paul reminds us: We fix our eyes NOT on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, temporary, temporary….but what is unseen is ETERNAL.
Where are you looking? Do you have an eternal perspective right now? You can still wear a “Fragile: Handle with Care” sticker AND have an eternal perspective. It all comes back to what you are focusing on. I believe Paul is saying very simply, “Don’t focus so much on the ME that you push out the HE”.
As Francis Chan states in his book, “Until Unity”, “The Lord in His sovereignty chose for us to live in this time, so we must trust that He will give us grace to navigate through this with strength and love.” He goes on to say, “The most painful times in life force us to rely on the God of resurrection. Paul says that is a good thing, and we should also. This is an opportunity to rely not on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead to life.”
Lord: May we acknowledge—glance—at what feels like death around us, but remain steadfastly focused—staring—at the life giver. Help us to fix our eyes on eternity, on you, every day, always. Amen.