Friday, March 7, 2014

first friday finds :: march

Trial and Torture.

Sound like something you would like to read?
How about something you would like to live?


In The Message translation of the Bible this is the heading for the beginning of Chapter 4 of the 2nd letter Paul wrote to the church at Corinth.  Paul was familiar with trials and torture in his own life.

And yet other translations provide very different introductions to his words.  The ESV titles chapter 4 - The Light of the Gospel - quite a different sentiment, wouldn't you agree?  And then the NIV kind of pulls it all together - Present Weakness and Resurrection Life.

Reading these various descriptions for the same passage of scripture reminds me that we aren't meant to face the trials and tortures of this life without the light of the gospel.  And really...our present weakness is directly tied to our resurrection life...and this chapter of scripture is a perfect place to begin understanding that truth.

As you may have gathered from yesterday's post, it's been a tough couple of weeks for me...nothing like Paul endured but I've had my fair share of trials.  When both you and your husband wake up on two consecutive nights panic-stricken in a cold sweat feeling like you might need to call 9-1-1 because your heart is trying to pound it's way out of your chest...when that happens...it feels a little bit like torture...and it's certainly indicative of a trial.

After being struck down by it more than once, I've been thinking about fear this week.  I've been thinking about how my fears have changed over the years...but they are still fear.  The enemy of my soul is so sneaky that he disguises them in different dark cloaks so that I pay attention to them for a season and allow myself to be tortured before I realize...oh yeah...this is just that same old fear again - packaged differently.
Fear is always sourced in this world.
Freedom from fear is always sourced from God.
It's one more reason I keep being reminded that I must be diligent in shifting my focus from the temporal to the eternal...from the the things that are fleeting to the the things that endure...from the fears this world offers to the freedom of eternity held out to me by the pierced hands of Jesus.

Although I've waited until today to put my own words around it...this month's First Friday Find came on Monday.  It was completely a case of God leading me to a specific verse for a specific purpose.

May I offer 2 Corinthians 4:1 to you in a few translations?

Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we're not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. {MSG}

Since God, in his mercy, has given us this new way, we never give up. {NLT}

Since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. {NIV}

There are so many things I would like to say about this passage but my time is almost up.  Here's something simple I hope you'll take away...
We all have a ministry.
We all have a job to do...something that we were uniquely created to contribute in this world.
But...the work we do is 'in this world' which, as Jesus reminded us elsewhere in scripture, will mean trouble, hardship, trials and torture.

We do our ministry in this world BUT we possess inside of us something that is of another world...an eternal one.
It's why I wanted to make sure you read the final translation from the NIV.
We do not lose heart
Because guess what has been set in our heart?  Eternity.
We have a work to do here and doing work here is hard...living life here is hard.  But it is all still very possible as long as we do not lose heart...do not lose sight of eternity...and it's things like digging into God's word on this First Friday that will ensure we don't.

I would like to type out the rest of chapter 4 for you because...it is so beautiful and true and rich and perfect for fear-fighting...but my fifteen minutes is up.

{Here's where you can find it...just in case you need a little extra encouragement in your trials and torture this First Friday...2 Corinthians 4}

Now it's you're turn...what did you find?


1 comment:

Sabra Penley said...

Keeping our perspective in eternity and our focus on the Lord God Almighty is the only way to make it through those times of trial and torture. I'm so thankful that God doesn't sugar-coat this life...He lays it out in all its grit and grime. And in doing so, He points us always to His purity and light. Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth.