7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed… 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. (2 Cor. 4:8-9,17-18)
Our H*VMI constituents, you readers, may feel hard pressed, perplexed or persecuted so these verses from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians are for you. They say that though you may feel that way, you are not, in fact, crushed or destroyed. Some things you have to take on faith. You are not abandoned.
He deliberately made us out of weak stuff, clay, that could be crushed and broken, so that everyone can see that when we’re crushed but not destroyed, it’s not us. We survive these troubles because God is with us and we are not alone in the trouble. It’s all about showing off God!
The difference between being crushed and hard pressed or being perplexed and in despair is the being renewed part. It may look to someone watching you that you are wasting away or that you should be wasting away because your life is so burdensome. But you can be renewed daily for that day’s issues. Your part in the whole picture is to put yourself in the place where the unseen eternal Savior fills you up with His unseen eternal Spirit so that you don’t waste away, so that you are not crushed nor destroyed. You are, in fact, not abandoned because He is with you.
Doing that helps us get the perspective Paul speaks of in verses 17 and 18. From the perspective of eternity, the things that truly feel overwhelming here in our lives in history are actually little. They are light weight, short-term issues. They are "light and momentary troubles." Actual troubles to be sure, but – and here’s the really important part - compared to eternity, they are light and momentary. Compared to what Jesus is making ready for you and me, they’re little.
As I’ve listened to your stories, I know the troubles are real and seem like big deals. That’s reality in our earthly lives. But as I listen to your stories in the light of Paul’s insight, what really happens is that my expectations for heaven grow bigger and bigger. Paul says it and I believe it. When we compare joys of heaven to the troubles of this life, heaven is so much grander that the memory of the troubles will fade to a speck on the distant horizon, almost nothing. Keep your eyes on the unseen Savior for renewal and for perspective. You are not abandoned.