On Thursday I received an interesting e-mail from someone who was advertising an educational “opportunity.” The e-mail read:
Masters degree with no effort.
GET YOUR DIPLOMA TODAY! If you are looking for a fast and effective way to get a diploma (non-accredited), this is the best way out for you. Provide us with degree you are interested in. Call us right now at . . . . Our staff will get back to you in the next few days!
Pity those poor students who have already registered for graduate school at some university where they will have to make an effort! So, apparently you can have a future where you make no effort in order to get your master’s degree. Now that is interesting!
Just the other day, as I was thinking about the future, I read these words:
“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
I am very hopeful and encouraged as I think about the future. However, my hope and encouragement are not based on circumstances. Rather it is based on Jesus’ resurrection and the implications for our own lives. If we could stand on tiptoe and look into the future, we can be encouraged. We are encouraged because Christ was raised from the dead and he will raise us as well (2 Cor. 4:14).
Of course, I am not suggesting that the future will not have moments of pain, suffering, and anguish. Life is often very, very hard. Outwardly, we sometimes go through great hardship. Outwardly, there is a sense in which we are “wasting away.”
1. Outwardly, we are aging — all of us. To complicate this, some of us have health problems and experience chronic physical pain.
2. Outwardly, we have troubles. These troubles seem to suggest that we have been disqualified from experiencing the good life.
3. Outwardly, we have broken dreams, disappointments and heartaches.
If this (the outward self) is the focus of our lives, we may have every reason to be disheartened. There are times when I have been totally focused on the outward. When this is my focus, I will generally become discouraged (if the outward is troubling) or prideful (if the outward is positive). Sometimes I think that if the problems in my life could just get solved then all would be well.
Meanwhile, God tells us that the larger reality of our lives is not what is happening outwardly but what he is doing in us inwardly. Our future is in the God of the resurrection who continues to renew us each day. Therefore, we do not lose heart. That is, we don’t have to become despondent over what we are experiencing outwardly in this life. Why? Nothing that is happening outwardly has limited, stopped or defeated what God is doing inwardly. The greatest reality in our lives is that he is renewing us every single day.
1. Instead of talking about how old you are and how you are physically not what you used to be, choose to talk about the renewing work of God in your life.
2. Instead of complaining about your problems, your health, and your frustrations, choose to praise God for what he is doing in your life.
3. Instead of feeling defeated because of your broken dreams, disappointments and heartaches, choose to thank God for never being limited, stopped, or defeated in what he is doing in your life.
When do you allow your outward circumstances to defeat you? What helps you rely on God?