Day 83 – “All of this is for your benefit”

Daily Readings: Deuteronomy 25-26, 2 Corinthians 4, Psalm 53

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

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 on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:8-18

There is power in our adversity.

Paul went through amazing hardships while sharing the gospel and yet his faith was never shaken. In fact he said to the Corinthians, “all this is for your benefit.” Paul knew the impact of fixing his eyes on the eternal was not just the power to survive these trials, but that it also had a massive impact on those who were in his sphere of influence as well.

When we see other people going through trials that we feel might cripple us, and yet they remain spirit filled, Christ focused, and optimistic throughout; we cannot help but stop and say, “I want whatever they have!”

“All of this is for your benefit.”

I am incredibly thankful to have seen this modeled throughout my life on so many occasions by some truly amazing individuals. The most impactful of these have been my father and mother. They did a fantastic job of modeling this mindset in general throughout our lives, but one particular story stands out above the rest for me.

Several years ago my Dad was diagnosed with brain cancer. His faith and optimistic attitude that God would see him through it never wavered. He went into brain surgery with a smile and his same fun loving attitude. When he had a hard time speaking clearly and one side of his face could barely move because of the surgery for the next several months, his smile stayed firm. When his two-year-old granddaughter that used to run full speed towards her grandfather whenever she saw him now approached nervously because Grandpa looked different, his attitude didn’t falter. He was focused on the eternal.

So was my mom. She was an absolute rock of support. At the time she was probably just trying to survive the emotions of this event. At the time, neither of them may have realized, or perhaps they did, but the example they set had power.

“All of this is for your benefit.”

My Dad has been cancer free for several years now, his speech is 100% recovered, the movement in his face is completely back to normal, and he is still the same fun loving father and grandfather he was prior to this encounter. The challenges have faded over time. The example he set, however, has not faded. The example he set will last a lifetime for me.

Three years later my wife and I needed that example when my daughter Sophie was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer at two months old. We needed to be able to look back at the optimism of my parents and their belief that God was ultimately in control. We needed to pull from what we saw modeled for us and fix our eyes on the eternal and remember what Paul said, “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 on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Like Paul’s trials, my Dad’s cancer had the ability to bring others to Christ as well as deepen the strength of conviction of folks who already professed faith in Jesus. His faith had power. Not only for himself, but also for others.

So did Sophie’s cancer.

So does your sickness.

So does your messy divorce.

So does your accident.

So does your time spent in jail.

So does your loss of a job.

Our relentless optimism in the face of adversity has the ability to point others to a father in heaven that is faithful. It has the ability to help others remember that these troubles truly are momentary, but our faith is eternal.

This can be so challenging. I am not trying to say that this type of faith Paul speaks of is easy, but all things are possible through Christ. And if you are struggling to grapple with the challenges you find yourself in currently, remember that this is the true value of community. Reach out to others in your church family who may have experienced something similar. If you don’t know any, ask your pastor or other Christian friends.

Sometimes before we can be the models for others, we need to see relentless faith modeled for us. There is no shame in this. Though we already know that the ultimate war has been won, the battle still rages.

There will be days where we do a better job of keeping our eyes fixed firmly on him, and on those days we will provide a powerful example for others. And there will be some days where we need to desperately look around for the “Paul” in our lives that is facing challenges with bravery from who we can borrow strength.

That is the power of community.

Some days we are Paul and some days we are the church at Corinth. This is a journey. None of us are capable of having our eyes perfectly fixed on Christ. If we were capable of perfection in our own strength, Jesus would not have had to come in the first place. However, when we live authentically with others, in our moments of strength and in our moments of weakness, there is power.

“All of this is for your benefit.”

Thought to ponder

Are there areas in my life where I have faced challenges that I could share more openly with others so that they might draw strength from my example? Are there any challenges in my life currently where I need to find a “Paul” to be a battle partner for me that can help me refocused my eyes on the eternal?

4 thoughts on “Day 83 – “All of this is for your benefit”

Add yours

  1. I love this article. Great work, Aaron. We need more stories of overcoming challenges alongside faith. Let’s find the stories and tell them!

    Like

  2. It is true that when you see others struggle through the circumstances and still maintain a positive attitude, it gives us the opportunity to share why we “are different”. If no one is asking us how or why we are different, maybe it’s gut check time.
    Great insight Aaron.

    Like

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