2 Corinthians 4:1
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. NIV
For the last several days, I’ve been working through the listings under the word “lose” in my concordance. I’ve been specifically focusing on the phrase, “lose heart,” which, in most cases, is a synonym for worry. While the “lose” listing is not of an insignificant size, I’ve abruptly found myself deep in the New Testament. The verses in my concordance are organized from Old to New Testament, so, it takes a while in any word search to get out of the Old Testament.
This morning, I was struck by the difference in Paul’s perspective from the Old Testament writers that I’ve spent so much time with on this project. It looks like only 31 of the verses that I’ve found so far have been New Testament ones, so, it seems that the second half of my project will be, perhaps, even more encouraging than the first has been.
Paul begins this chapter, “Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing …” MSG
I love that!
Paul appropriately gives the credit to God, not to himself. Paul is being beaten up and thrown in jail and maligned for doing God’s work, and yet, his perspective is, “Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job because we run into occasional hard times.” MSG
I am in awe of his perspective.
Had I been Paul, I’m pretty certain my attitude would have been, “Hey, give me a break! I changed my entire life for you, I completely reversed direction in my career, all my former associates think I’m crazy, I have this physical problem that won’t go away, people keep putting me in jail, and this is unpleasant!” But no, Paul says, “Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing …”
He counts it a privilege to be in service, to have this ministry, this ability to serve.
Sometimes, I think that God uses our darkest times not only to test our faith, but also to more effectively equip us to serve. Like new recruits into the armed services, we must be broken down and then rebuilt to be effective.
These last two years have been among my hardest. I haven’t always taken Paul’s approach, but, I’m often reminded of a story my mom shared with me last year. She found it in a Bible Study or in a quiet time guide. I wish I knew who wrote the story, so I could give him credit. The image is one that I carry with me.
A person was watching a silversmith work with silver. There was a flame involved, and the craftsman was explaining that he needed to heat the metal to just the right point, and then no hotter to achieve his objective. The observer asked, “how do you know when it’s ready?” To which the silversmith replied, “That’s easy, when I can see my reflection.”
The first time I heard that story, I wept. God allows trials in our lives not to break us, but to make us more dependent on him. Our purpose here is to glorify Him, to commune with Him, to reflect Him to our world and to do His work.
If we’re focused on those things, we, like Paul, cannot lose heart or worry … there is too much to accomplish! God has generously let us in on what he is doing … let’s get to it!
That’s what I’ll think about today.