Thoughts from Lauds, July 23

From the Office of Readings, 2 Corinthians 4:

“We are in difficulties on all sides, but never cornered; we see no answer to our problems, but never despair; we have been persecuted, but never deserted; knocked down, but never killed; always, wherever we may be, we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus, too, may always be seen in our body.”

There are days and circumstances in our lives in which we cannot see, with the eyes of this world, any way forward. But, Paul reminds us no matter what happens to our bodies — whether we face difficulties, problems, persecution, or just being knocked about by life — we cannot be conquered in Christ, who conquers death itself.

Paul writes this after being pursued, stoned, persecuted and imprisoned, and on the trajectory to his predictable martyrdom in Rome. Paul knew pain and suffering. He knew we would face pain and suffering. But, in that suffering, if we sacrifice ourselves, die to ourselves, and learn to lean on Christ, and not our human power, we sanctify our suffering and open ourselves to the full potential of our life in Christ.

As Paul tells us later in this passage, “the troubles which are soon over, though they weigh little, train us for the carrying of a weight of eternal glory which is out of all proportion to them.”

Lord Christ, you order us to take up our cross and follow you. Grant us the strength and courage to see the suffering of our cross not as an insurmountable burden, but as the refining process that brings us into your Presence and into Your eternal glory, which surpasses all suffering of this world. Amen.

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