But Not

In days that can be dark and confusing, I find that God allows me to have serendipitous glimpses of his grace and mercy. My dad always liked that word, serendipity, and it fits well today, for it’s another way of seeing mercy—a blessing, not expected, but received anyway, but I digress.

Recently, I sat at a round table with five other women. We had one thing in common—Jesus. Otherwise, we were from different places, at different stages of life, and each going through unique experiences at that moment in time.

Okay, we had two things in common—we were all struggling with issues in life.

In those few, precious moments we shared together, we placed those struggles, open-handed, on the table. I say “open-handed” because that’s what Christ requires of us. He asks us to share our burdens with one another and thus with him so that the load is lightened. When we hold back, resist vulnerability, we not only deny the other parts of his Body from being able to serve, but we resist experiencing the release that Jesus wants us to know when we place on him the yoke instead of carrying it on our own.

Our sweet, tearful time of prayer was precious and needed, and I’m so grateful to have had it.

That’s why, today, as I read part of Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 4), thoughts of what that moment really meant came to life for me.

Paul was telling the believers that the god of this age blinds the eyes of unbelievers. They don’t get such wonderful moments. They don’t see the light the gospel brings and how it glorifies Christ. We do. Though burdened by the struggles of the day, we get to experience such wonders when we come together as believers.

My experience with those women was spot-on in the reality that, though we follow Christ, though we love and serve him and want to share him with others, we are doing all this as fallible human beings—jars of clay. But even when that’s more than clear (as in when we share our struggles with each other), he still shows his power through us.

His light shines through our cracked shells.

Listen to what Paul says:

We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed in our body. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’s sake, so that Jesus’s life may also be displayed in our mortal flesh. So then, death is at work in us, but life in you. 

2 Corinthians 4:8-12 (CSB)

We may be afflicted (facing financial struggles or illness), perplexed (think COVID-19), persecuted (being ridiculed for our faith), and struck down (hit by death, suffering, or physical pain)…

Yet, in Christ, we can say: BUT NOT

  • Crushed
  • In Despair
  • Abandoned
  • Destroyed.

The struggles of this world, along with our natural aging, aches, and pains, all point to the sure death we each will face. They make us remember that this world is temporary.

We can say but not because this world is not the end. Paul made that clear to the church:

For we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you.

2 Corinthians 4:14

When we experience his grace by sharing our burdens with each other and thus with God, our reason for thanksgiving increases to his glory.

So, with Paul, I say to you, “do not give up.”

Jesus said, “In this world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33)

That’s an amazing serendipity!

Grace and Peace

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