2 Corinthians 4:13-18
But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” 14 We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. 15 All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
With April 15th just two weeks away I am reminded of what Benjamin Franklin in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy once said: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Yet Paul reminds us of a greater reality in which he had come to believe. “I had faith so I spoke,” In order to discover this reality that Paul wanted to share with the Corinthian community we need to look back at the scripture that Paul was quoting from found in Psalm 116:
1 “I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. 2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. 3 The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. 4 Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, save me!” 5 The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. 6 The Lord protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. 7 Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. 8 For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, 9 that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. 10 I believed; therefore I said, “I am greatly afflicted.” 11 And in my dismay I said, “All men are liars.” 12 How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. 14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. 15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. 16 O Lord, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant; you have freed me from my chains. 17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord. 18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, 19 in the courts of the house of the Lord—in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord.”
Paul’s situation fits surprisingly well with what the Psalmist describes in Psalm 116, he had lived this throughout a ministry that was far from easy. Paul is calling us to have faith that:
We are reminded of the struggles he faced as the cords of death surrounded him as the bitter pungent smell of the grave grabbed for him. Yet there, deep in the depths, the Redeemer rescued him. It’s easy to see the problems but do we see the provider? The One who was delivered into the pain and punishment of the cross and descended into the depths of death delivered him. The One who conquered death and rose to life delivered his soul from death, his eyes from tears, and his feet from stumbling. As Paul reflects on the Redeemer’s power to rescue he says “I believed in God” Paul reminds us that there is more to this life than death and taxes, and the story doesn’t end with death and defeat because of the power and provision of the One who is able to raise us up and give us new life. Have you ever asked the question, “Where is God?” It’s a question that is often asked especially in the midst of tragedy. “Where is God in all this?” we wonder, and Paul is reminding us that the resurrection is our reassurance. The Lord is right here in our midst and seated at the right hand in His presence, the answer is He is everywhere. Amid the trials and tempests, in the middle of the struggles, the Savior is there and He can save. Today whether you face tragedy or trial take comfort in Christ. Paul wanted the Corinthian church and us to remember our new reality. It’s easy for us to react based on our circumstances instead of our belief based on Christ. Paul said “Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day.” It was his belief that impacted his behavior. Now don’t misunderstand what Paul is talking about here, he is contrasting our present problems with our future promise. Paul understands that at some point we all die, he doesn’t contest the truth that in time everything corruptible will crumble, that everything on this planet will perish, whether it’s a city, home, or even our life. Yet in the face of our struggles and the stark reality of death Paul is steering us toward the promise, the hope found in the hands of an eternal God. The question is what do we see? There is an old story about a disciple and his teacher. “Where shall I find God?” this disciple once asked. “Here,” the teacher replied. “Then why can’t I see God?” “Because you do not look.” the teacher answered simply. “But what should I look for?” the disciple continued. “Nothing, Just look,” the teacher said. “But must I look in a special kind of way?” the disciple persisted. “No, the ordinary way will do.” “But don’t I always look the ordinary way?” The disciple asked in agitation. “No, you don’t,” the teacher said. “Because to look, you must be here and you are mostly somewhere else.” So often we don’t see the Savior simply because we are someplace else. Today stop and see the One sitting beside you, stop focusing on the problems and see the promise.