II Corinthians 4:1–Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 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.
From these Scriptures I see four things we need to recognize and focus on in order to keep going in difficult times, in order to not lose heart. Recognize first that:
- We have daily mercy available to us.
Verse 1 of II Corinthians 4 says therefore, through God’s mercy…we do not lose heart. There is mercy for every moment. God offers mercy in the struggle. Isn’t that what we want? We cry out for mercy in our heavy circumstances. God says He has it to give.
Too many believers leave God out of the equation when they are struggling. When that happens, they lose heart. Lamentations 3:22 says the Lord offers mercy new and fresh EVERY MORNING. Why in the morning? What about evening mercy? Well, it’s available for sure at all times, but I believe Lamentations 3:22 stresses new mercies each morning because sometimes it can be tough to get up and get going. Sometimes, when the alarm goes off and the thoughts start to swirl about everything we are facing in the day ahead, it can be tempting to stay in bed, to pull the covers over our eyes and wish we didn’t have to face the day.
That’s not abundant life. That’s not a life of joy and peace, empowered by the Holy Spirit. That’s not what Jesus promised. He said we would have trouble in this world, but that we could take heart, not lose heart, but we could take heart, because He had overcome the world. If Jesus has overcome the world, and we believe it is true, surely, we can trust Him to get us through the day.
- We have a compelling ministry.
When we are tempted to be overwhelmed, we need to get focused on the compelling ministry we have received from Christ. II Corinthians 4:1–Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.
Christians, we have a job to do. We may clock off and out of an earthly commitment each day or hang it up every weekend for a few, but we never go off the clock as Christians and we cannot afford to shirk our commitment to win people to Jesus just because we are experiencing earthly stresses and pressures. We have this ministry. The ministry never leaves us. The call of God to make disciples doesn’t get suspended in times of difficulty.
If I can remember that I am called to be a witness for Christ, if I can focus on that calling and stay busy talking about Jesus and serving like Jesus would want me to, it will keep me from losing heart. But if my focus is on my crisis instead of Christ, I will lose heart in a hurry. Focusing on my crisis will be overwhelming but focusing on my ministry as a Christ-follower will be inspiring and energizing. Our ministry is a REASON we keep going.
- We have internal momentum.
By this, I mean that there is something supernatural that takes place in a determined disciple of Jesus that energizes them, that fuels them, that restores and renews them no matter what happens to them from the outside. Paul goes on to say in II Corinthians chapter 4:16 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
What is this internal momentum about? It’s about having joy in the midst of unfavorable conditions. It is about having peace in spite of the raging storm. It is about having confidence in the middle of the struggle. It is about experiencing wellness and soundness of mind no matter what is going on.
There is a day-by-day principle that controls the life of a believer. In order to experience the day-by-day renewing, you need to walk with Jesus day by day. The pressures and hardships happen day by day, don’t they? I don’t know if there is a day that would go by where there wouldn’t be an unwanted happening, unwanted news, or some personal challenge to overcome. Even if you go on vacation and attempt to unplug, if you engage at all in social media or watch the news, you are right back into the pressure cooker. Since the pressures happen day by day it is critical that you walk with Jesus, day by day.
It would be crazy to think that you can deal victoriously with the pressures of life that happen every day if you are just engaging Jesus once a week. If you don’t feel the renewing strength of God day by day, you may need to ask yourself, “Have I been daily pursuing my relationship with Jesus?” A daily walk with Jesus will keep you from losing hope, from losing heart.
- We have an eternal motivation.
Verses 17 and 18, one more time: 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 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.
Why can we press on instead of being pressured to cave and quit? Because what is happening to us here is nothing compared to the wonderful things we will experience in Heaven. There is a finish line to cross. There is a celebration ahead. There is an eternal glory, an eternal reality, there is a realm and way of existing that is going to be worth it all. If we lose heart, if we give up, if we disconnect from the life Christ offers, we run the risk of missing the eternal because of something that is temporary.
Your current situation, no matter what it is, is temporary. Whatever burden you are bearing, whatever heartache you are enduring, whatever physical challenge you are having to walk through, it is temporary. Something better, something perfect is ahead.
I believe something eternal happens in our lives, in our souls, in our minds…every time we press on in faith believing. I don’t think we have to wait until Heaven for the work of eternity to be done in our lives. I believe God does an eternal work in our lives every time we hold His name up high. I believe God does an eternal work in our lives every time we look to Him to help us in our time of need. I know my faith is stronger now than it has ever been, even though the current pressures I face are probably stronger than they have ever been. How is that possible? Could it be that our faith grows in proportion to our pressures and problems as we are fixed on Jesus? I believe it to be so.
Paul had so many reasons to give up. He had so many reasons to give in. Instead of giving up or giving in, he gave himself completely over to the Lordship of Jesus. It is what made the difference. It is why he didn’t lose heart.
He said in verses 8-10: 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
I have mercy available to me for every day’s challenges. I have a ministry that is worth pressing on for. I have an internal momentum that is supernatural and gives me strength to persevere, and I have an eternal motivation that helps me keep it all in perspective. I will not lose heart.