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Devotional: August 10, 2021

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

2 Corinthians 4: 16-18 The Message

Sometimes, all we need is a change in perspective. From one point of view, the Apostle Paul lived a difficult life: shipwrecked twice, often persecuted, thrown in prison on a few occasions, and sometimes not even respected by the churches he founded or ministered to!

Even earlier in this chapter, Paul admits that if one were only to look at the surface details- the externals- things might look grim. He even says, “We’re not much to look at!”

Yet everything, including our outlook on life, is a matter of perspective. Paul captures his unique and positive outlook on life in this way, “Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.”

For Paul, his inner life with God is what matters. What’s more, he realizes that not everyone sees life as he does. Therefore, he does his best to point to the spiritual reality-often unseen- which will ultimately outlast our material world.

Some years ago, I heard the testimony of a man who had struggled mightily, his whole life, with being overweight. Finally, with a change in diet and exercise, he began to make some progress. Yet there was a moment when he realized that the weight loss had become permanent. He was in a grocery store, and he heard a little girl say, “Look at the fat man.” He looked around to see who she was referring to. It took him a couple of seconds to realize that she was talking about him. When he realized what had happened, he started laughing. He realized that even though the world did not yet see him as thin, he saw himself that way. An inner change in his attitude was helping to change his outer appearance. Today, one would never know how much he used to struggle with his weight. But the change began on the inside.

The next time you are discouraged with the state of the world, realize that God is often working his miraculous, healing, and transformative power in ways that we cannot see. Do not be discouraged, for our God always has plans that we may only see in time.

As the New International Version puts it,

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”

2 Corinthians 4: 16

Prayer

God of miracles,

When things do not seem to be moving in a positive direction, I find it easy to get discouraged. When I am down, help me to turn to You. I know that You are a God of hope, renewal, and resurrection. Remind me of what is most important in life: not the surface details, but the inward spiritual reality of my life. Keep me close to You, and renew me in every possible way-from the inside out! I pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.


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