2 Corinthians 4:7-9, 16-18
What has sustained you in the most difficult seasons or events of your life? Think back on a time that you struggled over something or someone in your life. Or a time when life just pulled the rug out from under you. As you look back, what allowed you to put one foot in front of the other and keep going? What sustained you through those times? What rooted your life or held it together, even if only barely?
In this letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes being confused, harassed, knocked down, yet focusing on the “unseen things that are eternal” where “the person we are on the inside is being renewed every day” (v. 16-18).
These “unseen things” that sustain us through hardship have a life that is bigger and more permanent than our immediate circumstances. These unseen realities connect us to a deeper reality that expands our field of vision. Eternal doesn’t mean later. It means the depth dimension of the now.
In my life right now, as I walk alongside my husband in his decline with frontotemporal dementia, it often feels like the ground beneath our feet is crumbling away. Each day brings new losses. At times, I’m heart-broken as he struggles to understand language or recognize faces. For me, in this season of loss, hope looks like living in this depth dimension of the now. I step into this depth dimension when I pause to simply behold his face, much like the way you behold a baby – amazed at the sheer miracle of his existence. When I connect to the love we have known in our marriage and the greater Divine Love that holds our lives – both “unseen, eternal realities” that cannot be destroyed, even by dementia. This is not a constant awareness, but I get glimpses of it daily. It can pierce through me at times to call me back to the “unseen realities that are eternal,” this larger framework of my life, bigger than this diminishment.
And this diminishment is real. I’m not pretending my husband doesn’t have dementia. I’m not saying you should just ignore the suffering in your life and pretend everything is OK. That sort of deception does not honor God. Quite the contrary. I’m saying that you and I do know suffering and that we also know, deep in our bones, that suffering doesn’t have the final word, suffering is not all there is. Your life has a “more,” a bigger framework, this depth dimension, that is both unseen and eternal. It sustains us through struggle, roots us during storms of life, holds our lives as we fall apart. It reminds us that “the person we are on the inside is being renewed every day”
Take a minute now to be a detective about your past. You have made it through really hard, sometimes devastating things. As you sift through those experiences, now, from a distance, name the life-giving people or words or practices that revealed this depth dimension of your life. Give thanks for these signposts of hope that now point the way.