Have you ever attended a show, sporting event, or movie, where the experience was so moving you just wanted to stay in your seat, even though the event ended?
I’ve been enjoying a really good season of life recently, but the season before that, well, it pretty much sucked. I hoped and prayed on many days that God would take away the ugly season. It seemed to go on forever. One thing after the other seemed to come at me, or someone in my family, like a flaming arrow.
For now the arrows have ceased, the grass seems greener on this side of that season, and I feel rested, content, and even hopeful about what’s ahead.
But here’s the thing. I think I’m stuck—again. I really don’t get it. In fact, I can’t believe I’m even admitting it. I’m wondering what’s wrong with me. I know what it feels like to be stuck when everything around is crumbling, but to be stuck when everything is going pretty good? What is that about?
I think I know. It’s a saying from way back when that has taken up residence in the recesses of my mind. I remember hearing it from the time I was really young. “This too shall pass.” I can understand how hearing those four words could be encouraging in the midst of a crisis, but honestly, they hold true for the good times. And now I’m wondering if that sentence should just be banned altogether. Because here I sit, stuck, knowing that the passing of this great season will come at some point. And then what?
And then… 2 Corinthians 4. The whole chapter is worth reading. Paul is writing to a church that is struggling to share the good news of Jesus during tense times. Here are some highlights:
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Here is how I interpret this. It’s a given that we are going to experience hard times, disillusionment, persecution in our lifetime, but we won’t be crushed, abandoned, or destroyed.
Good news, right?
Yes and no. I personally think all those descriptive words stink. Who really wants to feel any of that?
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 4:16
I understand what Paul is saying. We are aging in a fallen world. Our bodies are dying, but inwardly our souls are being renewed by Jesus. We are being prepared for something greater than us; something greater than right now; something we can’t possibly wrap our minds around because heaven is beyond what we can fathom.
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 4:17
That far outweighs all our troubles? Really? Did I read that right?
Maybe it’s just me, but wow, I have a hard time believing this in the midst of daily life. I struggle to make sense of scripture sometimes, actually a lot of times. And you know what, I think it’s okay. I think it’s healthy to wrestle with hard biblical truths. I think it’s important to ask tough questions. I think it’s good to have a heart to heart with our Creator and ask why and how and what. I even think it’s okay to live in the tension of not having answers. Probably not the most fun we’ll ever have, but at least we are thinking about spiritual things. Maybe for a few moments we’re not thinking about ourselves, or our past, present, and future struggles.
I recently saw a movie about a heroic woman, her encounter with a shark, and her fight to survive. Throughout the movie I squirmed, I covered my eyes, and I might have even crawled in my husband’s lap. When it was over, I had to collect myself. In the end, it was one of those movies that made me want to linger in the theater. Piece together what I had just seen. Search for the hidden takeaways that I could apply to my life. I didn’t want that moment to end.
It hit me several days later that I was focusing on what I couldn’t see in the storyline. I could hardly watch the drama unfolding in front of me on the big screen, but I could think about what was not being told. I could make up a glorious ending in my mind, and write the rest of the story. As silly as that may sound, I think it’s a big step to becoming unstuck.
“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.” 4:18