Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. II Corinthians 4:16 (NIV)
The workmen are at it again. This time they’re stripping off rotten wood siding and trim and lattice work. Some are painting; some are nailing; some are measuring and sawing. Living in a house that’s over 100 years old has its own special charm, but it also is terribly demanding, and maintenance is high on the list of priorities. Last year it was the kitchen when the plumbing erupted; the year before was an upgrade for my bedroom space. Now I have to attend to the exterior.
Years ago there was a country song that was all about old houses: This Old House by Stuart Hamlin and recorded by Mel Tillis. It mentioned all the things the house had been through—storms, darkness, lightning, night winds—but went on to say that the old house wouldn’t be needed much longer. The song writer was getting ready to meet the saints.
Paul talked a bit about houses when he mentioned having a treasure in an earthen vessel (II Corinthians 4:7), a fragile dwelling place. We know that treasure, our eternal life in Christ Jesus who dwells within us, continues on no matter the condition of our mortal bodies.
I find that thought comforting in this transient environment that can bring daily challenges to us all: a child becomes ill; an elderly person falls and breaks a bone; a teenager tears a meniscus; automobile accidents result in injuries. And though our temporal housing, our body, may suffer and even deteriorate, our eternal life in Christ Jesus is being renewed every single day.
Pains and aches, no matter how severe, do not touch our relationship with our Lord. Living by faith in his promises, rejoicing in his nearness, and trusting his grace can always lift us beyond the here and now. In suffering we move confidently into his presence and ask him to hide us (Psalm 32:7) from the storm ravaging our body for the moment. We rest steadfast in him, knowing that pain and distress are only temporary while he is eternal.
Never will he leave us, and when it’s time to move on from the patched-up house we’ve inhabited for a while, we have the assurance that our heavenly home will be maintenance-free. And our eternal self will be forever liberated from the shell that demands so much attention.
Father, keep me focused on you and not the physical ailments that sometimes tempt me to get obsessed with them. Thank you that these aches remind me that I am made for eternity and will some day be set free to live forever with you. Meanwhile, help me to use suffering for your divine purposes. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.