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So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Do you sometimes get discouraged, ready to lose heart? Perhaps discouraged by what you see going on in the world? Maybe the problems that you’re facing? What can help lift your spirits?

Paul tells us what can help in today’s scripture in which he tackles discouragement head-on. Throughout this letter to Corinthian Christians, Paul readily acknowledges his own dark times and struggles (2 Corinthians 1:8-9; 4:8-12; 11:24-28; 12:7-10), yet can say, “we do not lose heart.” Paul experiences his body growing older as well as the world’s slings and arrows against him. Paul feels the pain of “our outer nature wasting away.” And yet, he can say, “our inner nature is being renewed every day.” Paul actually grows spiritually stronger through his problems!

But what is Paul’s secret? How can he say “we do not lose heart” amidst life’s pains and troubles? Paul says that it all has to do with focus, with what we set our eyes on: “we LOOK not at what can be seen but what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.”

Paul’s world, no less than our world, was consumed by what could be seen: passing pleasures and possessions. Here today and gone tomorrow! All the houses, cars, vacations, toned bodies and 401(k)’s. Tragically, our culture is consumed with the trendy acronym YOLO, meaning, “You Only Live Once”. Grab for all the gusto! Now! It’s all there is!

Paul has learned through life’s hard knocks to look at life with God’s eternal perspective: “what cannot be seen is eternal.” In his next verse, Paul pulls back the curtain to reveal what we can know for sure about our future. Amidst life’s perplexities and unanswered questions, here is something we can know: “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1).

Paul’s imagery reminds us of the impermanence of today’s existence compared to the glory of our eternal home. I cannot read these words without remembering many years ago when my two little sons received a tent as a Christmas present. You never saw two boys more excited about spending the night in their tent in the back yard! But then, the night in the tent got cold and very dark, and they said to me: “Dad, the tent is fun! But can we go inside?”

We know as Christians that life in the earthly tent of our bodies can be good and beautiful, but how wonderful it will be to enter our eternal home! It is significant that in this scripture Paul describes life’s trials and troubles as “this slight momentary affliction.” That is how the trials and troubles will all look to us in the light of heaven! And Paul says that these trials and troubles are all “preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure.” Note how The Message translation renders Paul’s jubilant words: “These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us.”

So, we do not lose heart or get discouraged by what we read in the news or what is going wrong in our lives, “because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen.” We focus on God’s lavish celebration that awaits you and me!

A fellow traveler,

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