It has been very strange to be trying to avoid something that is unseen. How do you know if you're in danger or not? In most cases, you don't know. And so you are forced to exercise a kind of faith in what you cannot see as you attempt to make wise decisions regarding the virus. I think there is a larger lesson here if we are willing to learn from our experience.
This passage here in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 is profoundly relevant to our current situation. The apostle Paul writes about his sufferings and trials and then concludes with these words: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 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.”
I don't know about you, but this Scripture just nails it for me! I can't think of a better approach to our current situation than what we just read. Let's start with the main point. "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." Right now what is seen is a group of people, including you and I that are sick of dealing with this pandemic. What is seen is that Governor Hogan has declared a state of emergency in Maryland, with concerns about the health care system being overwhelmed. What is seen is schools going back to meeting virtually and churches too. It is an all too familiar refrain.
But here is where the hope kicks in. We don't have to lose heart in the face of these trials. We may feel like Paul that "outwardly we are wasting away." But we can learn from this passage what it is like to inwardly "be renewed day by day." When we focus on what God is doing in our lives, we can find that inward renewal. We find a sense of hope and encouragement not in our outward circumstances, which are easily seen and often disappoint us. We find hope in what God is doing within us. We find hope in what God is doing in our hearts to transform us into the best versions of ourselves--to transform us into more loving, joyful, and peaceful people. This is the single, most empowering move we can make when we face adversity.
By fixing our eyes on the unseen, we can begin to see what really matters--our relationship with God and others. Our desire to see the unseen is usually much stronger when what is seen in not going our way. When life is cruising along and all is well, it is easy to neglect the unseen as unimportant. But when significant challenges come our way, we recognize how crucial it is to find that inward renewal. This is the only way that we won't lose heart in the face of the trial. So we are in the midst of a golden opportunity to grow in our walk with God. We feel our need of God acutely. We are tired of what is seen. We want to be renewed inwardly!
So how do you do it? You start by taking time with God. Whatever that looks like for you. Whatever works best for you to build your relationship with God. Then look for God to show up in your life in different ways. Look for the unseen. Look for the gifts of inward renewal that God is giving you by grace. Look for the things that you wouldn't normally notice because you are spending so much time looking at what is seen and temporary. When you get distracted by what is seen, remind yourself that it is temporary and then refocus on that which really matters to you. I believe that you will see the evidence of God showing up in your life when you look for it in this way.
I would invite you this week to fix your eyes on what is unseen. Look for God's power to show up in your life. Ask God to renew you inwardly day by day. Embrace this current challenge as an opportunity for spiritual growth.
May you be renewed inwardly by God's grace this week.