“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.” -2 Cor. 4:16-17
As God-followers, we must remember that for every outward reduction to our lives there is an inward renewal taking place. Soul renewal. New strength to replace waning fortitude. New life in exchange for that which is old, even when the old is mostly preferred.
We cannot always foresee the reductions coming. Sometimes they surprise us. Sometimes we are warned in advance of their arrival. Still and yet, when loss arrives to our familiar, we feel it profoundly. We’re quick to mourn its advent, even quicker to forget the deeper work of grace that is taking place underneath the pain, at heart-level. It is in this inward place where our soul advances. Where faith is shaped. Where eternal glory exponentially increases at a rapid rate.
We may not see the increase happening, but just because our eyesight is momentarily dimmed by personal pain doesn’t mean that something good isn’t occurring at a deeper level. What soil put to the blade has ever thanked the blade for its penetrating sharpness? Until the seed is planted, the earth watered, and the sun applied, the soil has no appreciation for this inward work of glory. The soil just has to wait and believe that, with every passing sunrise and sunset, there is something generous taking place beneath the visible.
As it is with the soil, so it is with the soul.
I’m fourteen days into 2014, and if there’s one word that best characterizes what I’ve experienced in these beginning weeks it would be simply and profoundly be … loss.
Not only have I known deep, personal reduction, but one of my children has as well. My parents, the same. We couldn’t see it coming on the backside of our 2013s; nevertheless, loss has arrived at the doorsteps of our hearts, and we are challenged to take hold of God’s inward multiplication despite man’s attempts at outward reduction.
By the generous grace of God, we’re all still standing in faith. We all still believe in the mighty work belonging to the unseen—the hidden places of our hearts where the Gardener’s inward work is taking place. Even in loss, there is increase. We just can’t see it yet, not fully.
What I can see and what I do know is this:
God is keeping me in his perfect peace. Why? Because I am intentionally choosing to trust him and, moment by moment, to place my mind next to his. Whenever I begin to fret and feel overcome by the arrows of chaos shooting poison into my thoughts, I move my thoughts to a higher place. There’s nothing mystical about this mind-movement; rather, it’s a choice I’m making—a fluid, uninterrupted heart-motion that begins with saying, “I trust you, God” and ends with my resting my head on his chest.
Therein, I am a kept woman, if only for a moment. Moments can accumulate into hours. Hours into days, and days into weeks … these past two weeks of continuing peace. I’m growing to expect this from God, and I am exceedingly grateful for his generosity.
This is an inward work by the unseen God. This is increasing, eternal glory. And today, this is enough to carry me forward.
How about you? I don’t imagine I’m the only one who is experiencing loss in this season. Perhaps you’re standing where I am standing, feeling the sharp blade of unanticipated reduction to the soil of your heart. Might I encourage you with the words of the Apostle Paul that have greatly encouraged me?
There is an inward grace taking place just beneath your seen and visible. It may not feel like much right now; this reduction may have temporarily numbed you to the truth regarding kingdom increase. But when you get to the other side of this loss—when the seeds planted in darkness begin to sprout as glory under the splendor of God’s radiant Son—then you will know that there is more to this current grief than what can currently be seen.
So rejoice with me, ye sojourners on the road of reduction! Yet inwardly, the Gardener is sowing for increase. Rejoice, at least, in this. It’s something more than we expected, and it just might wind up being our preference in the end.
Kept in peace,