June 27, 2023
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NIV).
I could tell he was more uncomfortable than usual by the way he was seated, leaning forward, head down. His malignant disorder was doing fine, but his body was racked with arthritis. The orthopedic specialist had given up on improving his chronic pain. I told him I was sorry for his struggle. He answered with, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” His eyes were a bit moist as he looked to his wife, who helped him finish the verses, “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
How can I write words more valuable than these for those who are suffering?
Paul penned these lines to the church in Corinth centuries ago, and they are still great words of truth for those weighed down by the struggles of life. They are words of hope. However, they are only true for a subset of humanity. These words of hope are true only for those who have rested their future in the arms of God through Jesus the Christ.
Memorization is hard, but not as hard as life itself. I would challenge each of us to memorize the words my patient quoted (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16-18). I have begun that task with an older brain. It should be easier for you.
The Psalmist wrote, “Your words I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11, NKJV). What words of God have you hidden in your heart? Suffering is not a sin, but it can lead to despair. Each of us at some time will be tempted to fall into the sin of despair, where we no longer trust the Father who loves us. Many of us have been there and recovered. My personal plan is to take the words my patient quoted and brand them on my heart so that I might never again be tempted to walk alone through the struggles this life brings.
Help me to learn and remember your words of truth.