The Spiritual Perspective

When reading the book of 2 Corinthians, you quickly pick up on the very strong, spiritual perspective that Paul had on life. You also quickly realize that Paul faced many difficult persecutions and trials in his life. Chapters 4, 6, 7 and 12 very clearly portray this idea. The following snippets are several ways that Paul wrote of their trials:

“We are afflicted in every way…perplexed… persecuted… struck down.” -from chapter 4

“We are treated as impostors… as unknown… as dying… as punished… as sorrowful… as poor… as having nothing.” -from chapter 6

“For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn – fighting without and fear within.” – from chapter 7

What afflictions and trials Paul faced! Though, as we consider these words, we realize that this is the way of every Christian. Every follower of Jesus Christ will be persecuted and tried for their faith in Christ. As it says in 2 Timothy 3: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

If you finish the phrases that I share above, you will see that Paul was not in despair through all his hardships. Absolutely not! Through it all, he had a spiritual perspective in his trials:

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” – 2Cor. 4:8-9

“We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.” -2 Cor. 6:8-10

” For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.” -2 Cor. 7:5-6

Paul could say that even though he was dying, he was really living! Because in Christ we have eternal life (John 17:3). Even though he was poor, he was still making many rich because the Gospel is the true treasure on earth. He had nothing, and in reality he possessed everything – having Christ as his own!

How did Paul have such a good perspective through all his adversities? I believe that the key verse is 2 Corinthians 5:7 –

“…for we walk by faith, not by sight.” Trials, difficulties, and pain will come in the Christian life, yet when we walk by faith we are looking to God, believing that He is working through it all. That is how we can have joy through our trials. That’s why we can praise the Lord even in the midst of immense difficulties. That is how you can say the following with Paul:

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Isaiah 1:18

m8spmiqcg24-wilfried-santer

Thankfulness doesn’t just happen. Instead, it is something that must be chosen and intentionally proclaimed. In my journey of discovering all the aspects of what true joy looks like, I quickly came to realize that thankfulness is an integral part of the topic. And yet, when long days happen, the food gets burnt in the oven, and everyone seems to be irritated (even myself!), I realize that thankfulness is still just as important as the day before- when the sun was shining, the food was perfect, and everyone was in the best of moods.

So I decided that other day – that long day when sleep still seemed hours away – that if I am going to be thankful constantly and consistently, I must take intentional action and a lot of prayer. I sat down with my Bible that evening and opened to Isaiah. I started reading and every time I came across something that encouraged me – a promise, a characteristic of the Lord, a mercy of God, etc.  I wrote them all down.

And with that, the journey began. Finding many uplifting verses and phrases from the book, I decided that the next time I was downcast, I would intentionally meditate on one of the verses that I had found. The discipline to sit down and do something when the flesh seems opposed, can be hard, and yet how rewarding even a few minutes can be, when soaked in the Word of God!

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” 

~ Isaiah 1:18 ~

I know that’s a very familiar passage, but even a few minutes of meditation should result in praise to the Lord! What a simple statement, and yet how marvelous! For the believer, what rejoicing and humility should ensue.

The phrasing of “white as snow” and “like wool” denotes the idea of pure, washed and clean. We, who were dead in trespasses and sins, are now as white as snow? Yes. It makes no sense apart from Christ, the spotless lamb of God. John rightly testified to this Christ – “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”. This Lamb, the spotless & pure One, makes us pure and spotless before Him by the blood that He shed for us!

Are those sins, so vile and wretched before the eyes of a holy God, now like wool? Yes. Again, it makes no sense apart from Christ. Paul wrote in Galatians 1: “… the Lord Jesus Christ who gave Himself for our sins…” (Gal. 1:4). This should result in praise and deep-seated humility. There is no reason for boasting in ourselves for this purity since it was all because of Christ that we are now clean.

And time would fail to examine the contents of Hebrews 9 & 10 where Christ is described as the Priest who offered a sacrifice for sins, once for all. The blood of bulls and goats never took away sins, they foreshadowed to One who could do that – Jesus Christ.

What are you thankful for today? 

“I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.” -Psalm 69:30