2 Corinthians 4: 16 – 18 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
There are times, looking in the mirror, when the grey hairs and wrinkles can make us wonder what happened to the young ‘real’ us. Paul clearly isn’t into the struggle for eternal youth ‘on the outside’. He assures us that inside we’re being renewed. And there is comfort in this, despite it being completely counter-cultural. Even the males amongst us are being bombarded with ads for age-defying moisturisers, pills and potions.
But as the illnesses of later years begin to bite, it can be hard to accept them as ‘slight momentary afflictions’. Those of us who have cared for a loved one struck down with dementia can bear witness to the outer nature wasting away and may query Paul’s assertion about the renewal of the inner nature.
But we cannot know what goes on in someone else’s head, and even someone apparently lost deep within dementia can surprise us with a moment’s deep wisdom, faith, love and joy. It just takes more trust that our Lord is indeed love and knows what he’s doing – so we do not lose heart.
Because losing heart is the easy thing to do. Hanging on, looking beyond the real pain of our however-long affliction to ‘glory beyond measure’ may sometimes – often! – seem more than we are capable of. But this too will pass. For as long as we are alive on this earth, it is all temporary and sometimes that’s the only comfort there is.
This too will pass.
For those afflicted, and those afflicted by having to watch a loved one suffering, we ask for courage and strength and human beings with big hearts of love to support them as best they can. Be very real and present to your afflicted people. Shine Your light into their darkness and give them a glimpse of the glory that awaits them. Amen
Dorothy Courtis, Lay Preacher and member, Thurso URC