This past weekend we traveled down to San Diego for a day and spent time not only reflecting on how much we loved each other, but also reflected on all the Lord has done in our lives. Mia and Noah joined us as we went ice-skating on the beach at the Del in Coronado and walked to dinner and breakfast amidst the crisp cool air that is the beach-front. It was a wonderful time as Kelly and I watched our two precious children play and frolic in the sand and surf. In the back drop of my mind however, stood a pillar of anxiousness that has always been a goliath to me; the precariousness of my health. In faith, I do not done the armor of Saul, but I seek refuge in the Lord. I am no David or Moses in faith, but my heart is such that I seek to hide myself in the cleft of the rock, hoping and praying the Lord would pass by me and continue to sustain me.
It would seem that Samuel and the thought of last year’s events would ring loudest in my ears, yet having had three transplants during this season, I can’t help but be brought back to the pressing reality of unhealthiness. The truth is, a few days before our trip to San Diego, I was told my liver wasn’t pristine anymore; the latest rounds of blood tests showed a slight elevation in my blood levels. This is not necessarily cause for alarm, but with my two children in sight, as well as my pregnant wife, I can’t help but go to places in my flesh that I have no right or business to go to.
My body at times feels like a body of death; a sarcophagus slowly closing in around me. I do not say this to be dramatic. This is very real to me as each time I get blood drawn is an opportunity to hear once again, as I have heard so many times before, that I could be dying. I am not dying right now. I do not want to raise alarm to anyone. And yet, I am dying; I cannot be naïve to this. All of us are.
2 Corinthians 4.7-12, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.”
My body is a jar of clay. Oh to think anything other than this reality is such a naïve place to be! And yet, as I walk, as I minster, as I live for the glory of my wonderful God, I know too that I carry around with me this strange reality. I am dying, and in my life I carry around with me the reality of Jesus Christ’s death. It is more than enough to me, to know the surpassing greatness of the act of my Jesus for me; to come and justify me to the Father. Yes, we go through pain and trials and persecution, but we do it not focused on ourselves, but the glory of Christ’s death AND resurrection, so that in our faith in Jesus, His life and His glory may be made manifest as we show the world through this faith that is a gift, that He alone is enough to still be praised.
I do not live and breath and move for myself; I do not live as a victim of causality nor circumstances. I am not some meaningless heap going through life merely trying to get by or be as happy as I can. I am a son of the Most High God, redeemed for eternity, blessed beyond anything. Yes I am. I am not defined by my disease or liver struggles, any more than I am defined as a father who has lost a child. I am not a victim of God’s sovereignty; I am a servant of the King. I carry around with me the most precious promise of eternal life.
Did you know that? Did you know that you carry around with you, as you face trials and pain, the promise of eternal life to those who would see the faithfulness born in you towards an awesome and almighty God? Romans 8.18, “For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” There is death in this life, but there is life in death. We cannot be consumed, and I need to hear this just as much as the next person, with the trials we are facing. They will come; they have been promised to us. We are indeed struck down at times. We are confused and perplexed; these are natural and right emotions. But the conclusions of this world, that of destruction and despair, and not in the vocabulary of the believer of Jesus Christ.
No, we are more than conquerors. We are not victims; we are messengers in our pain of the very promise of eternity. “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4.16-18).
Really, in all sincerity, praise God for these trials and this body of death. For in it, we get to proclaim the promise of eternal life. We get to honor the King.
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