Grieving, yet always rejoicing (2 Cor. 6:10)
I have been feeling great grief during these times–grieving the loss of community, felt-security, planned events, freedom, time to get away and write, etc. Grief is real and it is okay and it is our reality. Often during these days I find myself tearing up and crying suddenly, without warning. Grief constantly bubbling beneath the surface.
But we grieve with hope. My grief is real, but it is not hopeless. “We do not grieve as those who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13). This verse assumes we do grieve (such a relief since we are all human), but it also assumes hope is present at the same time. Grieving, hoping, and rejoicing are all active words and not mutually exclusive. Somehow we can do them simultaneously.
Our hope despite this present grief can overflow as rejoicing: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! . . . The Lord is near” (Phil. 4:4-5). I think knowing “the Lord is near” is the key. We do rejoice and we do have hope in the midst of grieving because God is with us.
So, name your grief. Express out loud to God why you are sad. But, at the same time, remind yourself over and over that the Lord is near. Let rejoicing coexist with the grief. There is hope, so we can rejoice always.
Poor, yet enriching many (2 Cor. 6:10)
During these days, I often feel lacking (maybe you feel similarly?): poor in relational involvement, poor in face-to-face church community, poor in resources (toilet paper anyone?), poor in emotional capacity, etc. Yet, in the upside down Kingdom of Heaven, it’s somehow true that when we feel lacking it’s actually the perfect place to discover we have all we need. Jesus even gives a blessing to those who are poor: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs” (Matt. 5:3).
In God’s habit of working all things for good and also His sufficiency for all that we need, we discover we can still enrich those around us even when we are poor. Our poverty allows Christ’s abundance to flow through us, giving Him the most glory.
“[God] comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows” (2 Cor. 1:4-5). We are empty cups. Yet Christ’s comfort fills us and then overflows to those around us. This is how we are able to enrich others even in seasons of poverty.
Having nothing, yet possessing everything (2 Cor. 6:10)
How often I start the day feeling like I have nothing left to give–the reserves are all used up. Where am I going to find the energy and patience to make it through another day with six kids underfoot and this pandemic hanging over us? I am weary and overwhelmed on the inside. Whether we admit it or not, our hands are empty. All of us at one point or another finally realize that “we’ve got nothin’.” We can’t make it on our own and we don’t even have something to bring to Jesus to prove our worth or to earn His help.
And yet! That’s when Jesus makes a way for us: by grace and through faith (Eph. 2:8). We have nothing; there is nothing we can bring. Yet Jesus’ gift of grace brings into our possession everything. All the grace that we need. All the peace. All the strength. All the joy. All the endurance. Truly, all of Himself.
What Jesus brings to us is worth so much more than all we had before Him. “I consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him” (Phil. 3:8-9). We give it all up in the most beautiful and unequal of exchanges: our nothing for His everything. How gracious is our God!
Today we may feel like we’re going to explode or we’re not sure how we’re going to make it (I’ve been there many times in the past few weeks!). But let’s remind ourselves: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). Preach this truth to yourself all day, every moment if you need to. Yes, we may have nothing left to give, but Jesus gives us everything we need in abundance!