"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer man wastes away, our inner man is being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16)
As we live in a broken world, we find ourselves bombarded by the weight and suffering of this world. Our souls are overwhelmed by the traumas of sickness, loss, and death. Pain fills our bodies and our souls as we see those we love pass through the valley which we are far too familiar with. Being overwhelmed, overrun, and overcame, we break.
Eight years ago on this day, I lost my brother, Jon, to suicide. Every Christmas, I'm filled with joy to know that death and darkness have been defeated by the Christ born in Bethlehem. Yet even in the happiness lies the fractals of a broken heart. I am reminded of my brother's absence, yet again, 12 days before Christmas.
It may be that you, reader, are experiencing a pain similar to mine. This time of the year may be difficult as you too are reminded of the loss of your beloved. As the family gathers, your eye gazes at that empty chair, that empty room, or that empty side of the bed. Tears flow as the heart breaks once again.
In the darkness, we sit, hoping for something better. We wish and pray that God would make this trial simply a dream. Yet the pain is as real as the very words you read at this moment.
But, O my friend, we have hope. Everyday. For though we lose greatly, we gain infinitely more. Our Father, who has promised, is faithful. He will neither leave us nor forsake us. In the fire and the storm, He stands by our side. All the while, He remains sovereign over the storm. Paul encourages us in 2 Corinthians 4 by telling us that we as believers experience a day-by-day renewal through the Spirit through the trials we experience. He goes on to say that our pain, however great it may be at the time, is momentary and light in comparison to our eternal reward (see vv. 16-18).
Our Father uses our pain in our lives to strengthen us and perfect us because He loves us. He desires that we be conformed into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. "All things," says the apostle, "work together for good to those that love God and are called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28).
You may never know what that good is. Job didn't. When he lost all his family, possessions, and his health, he never learned God's purpose behind it. But he knew God. Job understood that God is a gracious Father who seeks only good for His people, even when it comes through the hardest of circumstances.
Reader, trust God. Look to Him who heals and mends the broken heart. He satisfies the longing soul. In the darkness, set your eyes on the Light which is Christ. Though it may seem better to simply give up, God has given us hope. There will always be a brighter morning ahead. We experience renewal day by day through the Spirit though our bodies, our circumstances, and the world around us break down.
There will be a day when darkness will fade and death will die. The people of God will rise to meet her Lord within the sky. Far from suffering and shame, you and I will experience the full ecstasy of the presence of God. He will fill us with joy. For at His right hand are pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16:11).