To lose heart…to despair, be down and out, discouraged, to be in a funk, depressed, sorrowful, saddened. We all “lose heart,” sometimes over the small things and sometimes over matters of great significance, sometimes because of how our own life is impacted and other times when the lives of others are affected, even those we don’t know across the world but we hear of their tragic lives of despair.
Paul was one who experienced many hardships and had cause to lose heart on many occasions: stoned and left for dead, whipped, beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned, attacked and threatened by angry mobs, criticized, and even bitten by a viper. And yet he says, “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” (2 Corinthians 4:1) He didn’t see his sufferings as an inconvenience to his day but instead as part of the plan to bear witness to a great and merciful God. He saw purpose and opportunity in his troubles. That’s our opportunity too.
I suspect we often lose heart because we’re so caught up in the moment that we lose sight of a different future. This last month has been the absolute worst health-wise, since my transplant. It’s been tempting to lose heart with no real solutions in sight and no end to the increasing pain and isolation. There were times I wanted to give up; I had come to the end of my rope. But that’s quite the point isn’t it? When we come to the end of our rope and are drowning in our inability to fix things, we reach for the lifeline that connects is to the one who never abandons us but instead buoys us so we don’t sink in the waters of despair. Surely, you’ve had your own experiences with losing heart over your own personal heartache.
You feel hard pressed but not completely crushed, persecuted but not totally abandoned – though it may seem so, struck down repeatedly but not destroyed, perplexed but not in hopeless despair. Our lives are like Paul describes: ordinary and fragile jars of clay, chipped and marred, but filled with the treasure of hope in the all-surpassing power comes from God, not us. The battle is not ours alone! And today’s sorrow is not the end of the battle. Though the temporary ruler of this world wants to make you think it is! He seeks to blind our minds to the hope and power of God’s promises spoken into our lives – true promises we’ve learned so we can endure one more day, one more hour, one more moment. God has the power to bind “the mind-blinder.” Though darkness seems to surround us, God says “Let light shine out of the darkness.”
Are you feeling down? Dealing with a seemingly unsolvable problem? Situations beyond your control? Everything seemed to be going okay until suddenly you were blindsided? Don’t lose heart. You may be worn on the outside and feel like you are wasting away. But God wants to renew you today and every day and fill you with hope.
Look for the giver of life and renewed hope, not just for the gift of relief you seek from him. Let’s fix our eyes beyond our temporary present difficulties and disappointments and look to what is not seen… a better future and victory over the things that would otherwise cause us to lose heart.