When You Encounter Fire and Rain
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 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.
Yesterday’s devotional message in The Forever Notebook, dealt with how God fights for us in the midst of our troubles. Today, we’ll look how a heavenly perspective can ease the burden produced by our troubles.
As I meditated on Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4, I was reminded of an old saying, “I can’t see the forest for the trees.” It expresses how life’s troubles can consume our minds, making it near impossible to see passed today to tomorrow.
Paul said, “…we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away…” He hasn’t given up or lost hope. He’s not discouraged nor depressed. Paul remains optimistic and hopeful. “…we are renewed day by day.”
To appreciate Paul’s optimism despite his troubles, let’s take a look at what he means by “outwardly…wasting away.” We find insight later in chapter 11 where he clarifies what he has endured in his service for Christ.
- Imprisoned, severely flogged, repeatedly exposed to death (v23)
- Five times 39 lashes (v24)
- Three times beaten with rods, once pelted with stones, three times shipwrecked (v25)
- Constantly on the move; danger from rivers, bandits, fellow Jews, Gentiles; in danger in the city, in the country, at sea, and from false believers (v26)
- Deprived of sleep, without food and water, cold and naked (v27)
- Arrested and escaped over a wall in a basket (v32)
Despite all that, Paul exhorts us, “Don’t lose heart.”
Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus
You’ve got to help me make a stand
You’ve just got to see me through another day
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
I won’t make it any other way
Those words are meaningful to so many of us because they capture what we have often felt in times of trouble. Live long enough and you’re going to see Fire and Rain.
As for me, severe trouble started early in life. At 7, my Uncle Buddy was accidentally killed by his best friend in the Marine Corps. When I was 11-years-old, my daddy died. A year later, I watched as my mother suffered a debilitating stroke.
As a pastor, I was inspired by our older members and their fascination with songs and sermons about heaven. I’ve discussed this phenomenon with others who surmised that getting old just naturally causes you to think more about your heavenly home. The time for moving on to your final destination is growing closer.
Well, I believe that is only part of the answer. Getting older has helped me understand why heaven means so much. As much as the destination, it’s what you’ve been through, life’s hard knocks that you survive that teach you the reality of the faithfulness of God.
You learn over time the truth of Paul’s teaching. All earthly troubles are “light and momentary.” They are “achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs” all our troubles.
Through it all, the fire AND the rain, as we walk with God, “…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.”
Like the runner in a competition, we grow tired and weary, but we are encouraged because we know there’s a finish line ahead and a reward for finishing the race.
It may not seem like it now, but today’s fire and rain won’t last forever, it is temporary. The best is yet to come. May God give you relief from your burdens, brighten your outlook, and bless you according to his riches and glory in Christ Jesus.
For more on this topic, check out this article: God is Always There When You Need Him
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.