Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Then Am I Strong"

    Sensibilities about God and our relationship to Him often seem to work in reverse.
    "My strength is made perfect in weakness...When I am weak, then am I strong" (II Corinthians 12:9-10).
    The Apostle Paul's testimony would seem nonsensical if we did not know of the heavenly/earthly union that forms the being and characterizes the experience of born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.  When we feel at our worst, the potential for God's best often leads us to glories unavailable when life is less challenging.  One can imagine that many of Paul's greatest sermons were uttered when he most felt, as he testified, "troubled... distressed... perplexed... persecuted... cast down" (II Corinthians 4:8-9).  I suspect also that the Scriptures he wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit were not always accompanied by feelings of glee and exhilaration.
     When we feel most down emotionally, mentally, and physically, the truth of the matter may be that we are most up spiritually.  "Though our outward man perish, our inward man is renewed day by day" (II Corinthians 4:16).  Sensibilities of personal discouragement should be viewed as the signal that our Lord purposes to encourage someone else through us.  Perhaps a prayer for someone whom we know to be hurting (or for someone whom we don't know, but for whom we pray nevertheless).  Or a word to a fellow traveler,  strengthening and reminding him of the risen Christ who "ever liveth to make intercession for us" (Hebrews 7:25).  Or the example of our confidence and rejoicing, even as we feel the feelings of our own challenge.  Whatever the case, our times of feeling down grant powerful opportunity to glorify our Lord and bless others.  "So then death worketh in us, but life in you" (II Corinthians 4:12).
    A great and liberating wind rushes through our spirits when we realize that life is not about us.  "To live is Christ" exulted the Apostle from a Roman prison where no other "life" was available (Philippians 1:21).  Indeed, when we attend ourselves to God's heart and the hearts of others, He undertakes to fill our own hearts with a joy and peace beyond explanation.  Yes, when we feel down and discouraged, the glory of the Lord Jesus and the needs of others beckon us to the mountaintop of the otherness of God where "charity... seeketh not her own" (I Corinthians 13:5).
"Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you... for all things are for your sakes."
(II Corinthians 4:10-12; 15)

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