One of my favorite scripture passages is 2 Corinthians 4:8-12; I used it to anchor my first book, and every time I run into the words I feel a deep well of faith and reassurance.
It popped up again this morning in response to a text I received from a good friend in Richmond. He told me he was praying for me as he understands how complex and difficult life can be when we have a few additional things on our plates.
“I’m tired and a little overwhelmed,” I wrote back, “but I have tremendous support from so many people. I hurt my back this week and I’m slammed by oak allergies. But it’s very much a 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 situation.”
I have traditionally used the classic translation: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”
But this morning I stumbled across Peterson’s paraphrase in The Message: “We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do…”
But it’s the first line in verse 7 that really grabs me: “If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness…”
Reading that made me remember what the heart of the message of Jesus is. The heart of the message is that God loves us and that God intends to shine in and through us. And when people look at us that is the message they need to see – to hear – loud and clear.
Absolutely nothing that happens in our lives has the power to dull the light or to dilute the Good News of the Gospel of Love!
Of course we experience challenges, and setbacks, and difficulty, and situations that tend to overwhelm. But still Jesus shines.
- “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
- “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37)
- “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).
Peace, and promise, and then more peace – DEREK