August 13, 2008

Joy in the Mourning

2 Corinthians 4:13-18

Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
2 Corinthians 4:17


Bone cancer took Joy's life. She had been through hard times throughout her life, and she died a hard death. During her final months, Joy's pain was constant, and sometimes it was intense and demanding. Her worst pain wracked her body, mind, and soul in the final weeks as a tumor pushed against the spinal cord in her neck. Joy taught me about living with pain. When we hurt in our bodies or in our hearts, pain seems to go on forever. But pain does not have the -final word. In the middle of pain, Joy always remained hopeful and joy-full. She knew the truth expressed in today's text. Compared to the weighty glory of everlasting life, her pain was “light and momentary.” Sometimes pain is more than we can bear in our own strength. But God's strength through pain is far greater than ours. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” For us humans, many things are impossible, such as enduring terrible pain. But when we fix our eyes on God, who is unseen, “all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). That kind of confidence is at the heart of Christian joy.

O God, I confess that my eyes wander from you to my pain. Keep them fixed on you alone. Thank you for making hope and joy possible even in the midst of pain. Amen.

About the author — Mark Stephenson

Rev. Mark Stephenson is the Director of Disability Concerns for the Christian Reformed Church in North America. Previously he served in two congregations in Michigan. He and his wife have four children.

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