August 28: Dying With Heart

2 Corinthians 4:16. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 

I’m not sure if your discouraged today or not. Or if you’ve been walking through something difficult. Or if you feel like you’re about to lose heart. Maybe you are feeling the weight of your outer self wasting away. Your own mortality.

I think about my own mortality quite a bit actually. Not to be too dark, but between the anxiety and low-level depression, the back pain, and the arthritis in my knees, the daily struggles with my own sin, and the burden of carrying many other people’s sorrows and sins alongside of them, I can literally often feel myself wasting away. These things aren’t going away. None of them is going to get better. Probably only worse.

This isn’t about pity. I know you have felt it too. The wasting away. And many of you much more than I have. I’ve sat with you. I’ve heard your stories. Life has taken its toll.

But we who are in Christ, and in whom Christ dwells, we do not lose heart.

Don’t lose heart, Christian.

Yes, your losing your strength. But don’t lose heart.

Yes, your losing your memory. But don’t lose heart.

Yes, your losing your stamina. But don’t lose heart.

Why? Because the indwelling Christ, by the Spirit, offers us something that only he can give – inner spiritual renewal that comes to us in direct proportion to our outer physical decline, but only by faith.

Paul is not simply saying that though we are all dying, we need to stay encouraged. I think it’s deeper than that. He is proposing that our physical dying is actually working toward our inner spiritual renewal at the same time, proportionally, and synergistically. Your physical dying and your spiritual growing are connected.

How do we die without losing heart? We trust that our inner self is being transformed BY our dying. Our physical wasting away (or death) is at work in us (4:12) to guide our hearts deeper and deeper into the crucified life. And as we embrace the cross we experience the glory of the resurrection in the inner self, the heart. Each day as we come closer to death, with all the physical struggles that it brings, we come closer to real life. If, by faith, we will embrace our dying.

I know nobody wants to talk about dying. But as Christians, we need to be able to talk not just about having hope in death, but also hope in dying. We’re all dying. We must embrace our dying physically, to allow us to embrace our dying spiritually as we live the crucified life, giving our lives for others.

So don’t lose heart. “To live is Christ” means we don’t need to hold desperately to that which is wasting away. Rather, because of our resurrection hope, we hold to the One who is forever renewing your soul. We hold to the eternal reality of all that will last beyond death.

Are you losing heart today? Is the idea that your physical dying can work spiritual renewal a difficult one for you? How does it allow us to face death with hope and courage?  How does meditating on your union with Christ allow you to experience inner renewal even in the midst of physical decline?

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