Sundays are hard for me these days. It’s the last day before a new week begins, weeks that are a bit harder than I would like, and it’s also the day in which my community in Nicaragua meets, and I’m not there. I am slowly participating in my mom’s church, Northridge Friends Church, and each time I go, I ask the Lord to help me hear what He has for me, to focus on the good and not the hard.
Today, there was a guest pastor, the main pastor’s father-in-law, and as I listened to him, I knew I wanted to share some thoughts from it here, as a reminder for myself and an encouragement to my brothers and sisters currently in Nicaragua.
His title was “How to get through a bad day” and his text of reference was 2 Corinthians 4:7-12, 16-18. I don’t know about you, but a title like that sounded like something I needed to pay close attention to.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you….So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:7-12, 16-18 ESV
Man, do I feel like a jar of clay these days. And praise God for it, because to not be conscientious of it is to miss the things that God is doing in spite of my weakness. When I think about what my brothers and sisters are facing in Nicaragua, be it heightened levels of stress, tension and fear, or what many citizens there are experiencing after the loss of a loved one, the unknown circumstances of others, the persecution, injustice and outrageous circumstances of many, my heart grieves and my soul shakes. There are so many things I would like to say, and don’t, for the safety of my husband there currently and the tenderness of heart of so many others. I want desperately to have a word of hope, of light and to shout it from every rooftop; this morning I felt this was the word I had been looking for.
My dear ones, do not lose hope. The very critical and horrific situations that are occurring, the things that make us indignant, furious, desperate and terrified, are the very things that Paul calls “light, momentary affliction” – not because he is saying that they are not serious things for one to experience, but because what they contrast to, the “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” make everything else pale. Think about that. That a complete destruction of security, safety, well-being, justice and progress can be called light and momentary. That those very things, the heavy handed strongmen, are preparing for us this glory.
How do we know? How can we be certain of this? The unequivocal presence of God is with us through it all. Isaiah tells it to us clearly:
“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you….Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Isaiah 43:1-5, 19 ESV
To this we must cling, to remember that though the night be dark, the trials long and the weight heavy, He is with us. He is working in us, preparing something so good that nothing can diminish its light and goodness. We can see it in the cross – what was a despicable, unjust and horrific thing, God used to bring forth the capstone of Creation, the most glorious event of all mankind. This is our Father; He has not changed. He is able and willing to turn what we see as utter decay into glory. Oh, and that is so my hope, my desire. To see what has happened be transformed into light, to see those who are bent under oppression rise up into a glorious future that sings His praises and walks in His freedom.
Brothers and sisters, those of you who are there enduring, those of you who are suffering, take heart. Know that I pray for you every. single. day. That our Good Father walks closely with you, upholds your tired hands and hugs your weary shoulders. That He is in this, though it seems hard to perceive. That He is working, moving, though He seem silent or distant.
I remind myself of this when the heartache threatens to overwhelm, when the energy and patience needed to do the next thing seems non-existent…He is here, and He is working. I can continue on because His surpassing power is available, and moving on our behalf. May we have eyes to see the unseen, to not be distracted or burdened by the seen, but ultimately, hopeful in the promises of His Word, all of which are YES in Jesus Christ.
Un abrazo hermanos. Los extraño terriblemente. Él quien nos llamó es fiel, y Él hará!