November Gratitude Stone 10 Lament
2 Cor. 4:7-18
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”[a] Since we have that same spirit of[b] faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
The Bible is full of instruction to bless the Lord, to rejoice always, to praise the Lord because His love endures forever. Sometimes that is harder than one would think and it is easier to say “Good Lord, it’s morning” rather than “Good Morning, Lord”. Fortunately the Bible is also full of laments, complaints and expressions of despair.
Even more importantly, our struggles and pain are so intertwined with thanksgiving and praise that they really are two sides of the same coin! Thanksgiving is the goal of both lament and praise; without sorrowful complaints, praise atrophies. Why? Because God wants us to talk to him, to stay close to him in good times and bad, through tough times and happy, on mountain tops and in valleys. If praise was the only way we could relate to God, we would be at a loss for relationship most of our lives!
How do we find purpose in our laments and not abandon praise? Lament without thanksgiving is a spiraling downward slide and thanksgiving without lament is often a cheap sentiment that doesn’t sustain for the long haul.
No one wants to lose heart; everyone wants daily inner renewal. Paul’s New Testament version of a lament is found in this passage in Corinthians. Paul says we do not lose heart. We are always being renewed. And the real insight is not “ how can I be renewed every day without losing heart”, rather it is “how do I prepare to suffer without losing heart?”
Life is not static. It is up and down. It is so daily. And yet Paul reminds us that the secret to hope and strength and joy day by day is found in recounting to God our discouragement and pain, remembering His character, resolving to trust and rejoicing in His provision. This text is an invitation to look at all the reasons you don’t have to lose heart:
- We don’t lose heart because God’s power is showing up in our weakness (v. 7).
- We keep going because God sustains us (v. 8,9).
- We don’t give up because Jesus’ life is glorified in our dying bodies (v. 10,11).
- We keep trying because God is being glorified and others are receiving hope and strength (v. 12).
- We persist so others receive grace (v. 15).
- We maintain hope because everything is going to end well (v. 14).
- We don’t lose heart because this is temporary (v. 17).
- We don’t give up because this is light (v.18).
- We don’t throw in the towel AND we are being renewed day by day.
We don’t surrender because it all produces a weight of glory beyond comparison (v. 18).
Lord, I often am sad and discouraged but I know that you are good and I thank you for your companionship, your control, your kindness and your competence for every day.