Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 (NIV)
In the midst of life, we are in death…
That’s the first line of an ancient Gregorian
chant believers used to sing each week in worship. It’s a song modern
hearts refuse to sing. It may be a true statement, but most of us would
prefer not to be reminded of it. We build our worship services around the
truths of our faith that inspire and encourage us.
And that may be our mistake.
This month, we remember our spirits, and seek
courage and wisdom and hope for these difficult days. And our problem
isn’t that we don’t know Jesus or love him enough. I think our greatest spiritual
challenge is wrong expectations.
Our expectations of life with Jesus here on
earth are wrong. Somehow, we’ve gotten the idea that if we love Jesus and
Jesus loves us, we will be supernaturally shielded and protected from all pain
and suffering. But this is not what Jesus promised us. Our
ancestors knew that–which is for them that song was a source of encouragement
and strength. They expected trouble and sorrow on earth–and so they
sought the Lord in it.
Maybe they learned these right expectations
from Paul. In his second letter to the Corinthians, he testifies:
We are hard pressed on every side, but not
crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not
abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in
our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be
revealed in our body. 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
Part of the burden of these days is not just the
pain and fear–but the nagging thought that it wasn’t supposed to be this way,
that something’s gone horribly wrong.
But scripture and faith teach us to expect seasons of pain and loss. Jesus promises not to save us from these days–but to bring abundant salvation life into those days. The good news isn’t God is good when life is good–but that God is good even when life isn’t good. Because, on this side of eternity, often it isn’t.
That song the monks chanted is true–in the midst of life we are in death. But in Christ, the reverse is also true. Because of Jesus, even when we are in the midst of death, we have life. Come and see…