Said it before, will say it again. Sometimes the best way to deal with the here and now is to pause and refocus on the there and then. Paul did. Reading in 2Corinthians 4 this morning and Paul’s “afflicted in every way”, perplexed, persecuted, struck down, and constantly brushing up against death. Yet, he writes, “We are not crushed, nor driven to despair. We don’t feel forsaken, nor are we dismayed.” How come?
Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into His presence.
(2Corinthians 4:13-14 ESV)
Paul could go through all he went through and still not lose heart because, by faith, he knew that just as God had raised Jesus from the dead, so too, Paul would overcome death and one day be in His presence. Though his outer man wasted away with the eroding burdens of doing life, yet his inner man was being renewed daily as He anticipated being “away from the body and at home with the Lord” (4:16, 5:8). And when home, he anticipated “an eternal weight of glory” that made what was going on down here but a “light momentary affliction” in comparison (4:17).
He could deal with all the trial, tribulation, and all the suffering; he could put up with the spectre of death that hung over his mortality, because he knew that one day it would be swallowed up by life.
For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage.
(2Corinthians 5:4-6a ESV)
Swallowed up by life. That’s the phrase that I’m chewing on this morning. Doesn’t matter what translation you read, it reads the same. Literally, our mortality is drunk down, and so, it is swallowed up. Devoured, destroyed, absolutely and fully consumed. And by what? Life. According to my Greek lexicon, the state of one who is possessed by vitality. The real thing, genuine and full. Life active and vigorous.
All the burden is lifted. The clouds are forever removed. The weight on your chest, never to be experienced again. All because it will be swallowed by life. The handicap of aging and illness, consumed forever by vitality and vigor.
No wonder Paul saw the valleys of the here and now as light momentary afflictions. Because, by faith, and through the inner witness of the active, life-guaranteeing Spirit of God, he could anticipate something of what life would be like in the presence of the glory of the Author of Life. He could sense something of the joy to be known in a place where every tear is wiped away and there shall be no more “mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
All because it will be swallowed up by life.
And so, we don’t lose heart. Our inner man, our inner woman, is being renewed day by day. We groan, not so much because we again need to carry the burden of the day, but because we can’t wait to put on the weight of glory that will be ours in a soon to come tomorrow. And so, by faith, we keep on keepin’ on.
By His grace. For His glory.