+ See All Blog Posts

We Do Not Lose Heart (2)


We do not lose heart (2 of 2), Marvin Bryant

Yesterday we noticed that Paul did not lose heart because of the nature of the ministry he was involved in (2 Corinthians 4:1). He identified it as the ministry of the Spirit, a glorious, life-giving ministry. When we serve, we are privileged to be a part of that same ministry.

Sixteen short verses later he says it again! "So we do not lose heart" (2 Corinthians 4:16). Apparently Paul either struggled with losing heart or perhaps it's just that there were plenty of reasons why he could.
The reason he doesn't lose heart in 2 Corinthians 4:16 is similar to what he stated previously in 4:1, but with one addition. The reason is still because of the ministry he is privileged to be a part of. That ministry has been the theme throughout chapter 4. Near the end of the chapter, though, he adds a helpful, practical way of not losing heart.

Notice that the gist of the last paragraph in the chapter is a comparison between the hardships and afflictions we are experiencing now and the good things that are coming when the Lord returns at the end of time. The current troubles include many difficult things, yet Paul describes them as light and momentary. The future blessings includes us sharing fully in the weighty glory of Christ for all eternity. What do we make of this comparison?

Honestly, even though my difficulties are nearly as bad as Paul's, I have to say they don't feel light and momentary. They feel hard and long lasting. I think the problem is I have not compared them properly to the eternal weight of glory. I think the reason I have not done so is that I have not yet truly seen how magnificent and substantial is the glory we will receive when the Lord returns.

Elephants seem big. You can quote me on that if you want to. But when you put them up against a mount range, they don't seem nearly so big. You can see mount ranges from space, but you can't see elephants. Our problems may seem as big as an elephant, but they are not nearly as big as the glorious "mountain ranges" that are coming. Adopting a bigger, cosmic perspective allows us to see the comparative difference between our elephants and the glory of "mountain range" that is coming.

With that in mind, the key line and practical take-a-way is v. 18, "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." If you want to lose heart, focus on the elephants (problems). If you want to not lose heart, change your perspective and focus on the mountains (the unseen glory that is to come). Or focus on another visible reality that is already here, namely, that the ministry we are involved in is renewing us every day (v. 16). We are becoming increasingly like Christ now and so being prepared for eternal glory later. These realities cannot be seen, but they are realities nevertheless and can be focused on.

In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor says that "studies have shown that the less negative TV we watch, specifically violent media, the happier we are." Such people do not ignore real world problems. In fact people who watch less TV turn out to be more accurate judges of risk and reward than those who OD on TV. It's just that they don't allow themselves to be overwhelmed by all the problems. There's a warning in that for us in our current crisis. Be careful not to OD on all the dangers and problems. Don't feel obligated to read or forward every article you see. Don't be naive or ignore danger, but don't dwell on these either. You'll be happier. 

Instead, serve others. Ministry matters. Minister wisely and carefully, but do minister. As you do so, "fix your eyes on what is unseen." This includes remembering the glory we will share in the future, but it also includes the glory that is taking place right now. As you serve others, God is slowly but consistently transforming you into the image of Christ, with ever-increasing glory. He is also using you as a servant for transforming others as well. That's what the ministry of the Spirit is all about, and God has mercifully called you to be a part of it. So get your mind off of yourself, take heart, and continue to serve. 
--Marvin Bryant