September 14: Great Sorrow and Great Rejoicing (at the same time)

2 Corinthians 6: 4-10. but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

What does the life of a Christian look life? What does ministry, or in Paul’s case Apostleship, look like? “To live is Christ” means that we will experience the dichotomy of 2 Corinthians 6:4-10.

Paul is describing an extremely difficult life, and no doubt his life was an extreme case. But he is also describing a life of great glory. The glory of genuine love, and the Holy Spirit, and the power of God, with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left.

The Christian life is a life of constant sorrowing and constant rejoicing.

Why does union with Christ create such a contrast? Because union with Christ places us in both columns at the same time, all the time. Paul is not describing a life of a little bit of hardship and then a little bit of rest and happiness. He is describing a life of great hardship and a life of great glory happening all at once. It’s not two columns as much as it is one jumbled mix. Sorrowing and rejoicing at the same time. Dying and alive at the same time. Poor and rich at the same time. Having nothing and having everything at the same time.

The Christian life this side of Heaven is not guaranteed victory over each of our struggles. It is guaranteed struggle. The question then becomes, “will you engage these struggles face to face with God embracing his grace along the way?”

This kind of living in both columns at once is only possible in Christ. Without union with Christ, who would ever choose a life of service that would result in even half of what Paul endured? Without union with Christ, who would ever endure sorrow with the hope, faith, and love that Paul displayed? It takes a constant focusing and re-focusing on the indwelling life of Christ for us to live the life of Christ. It takes looking to the glory beyond this life to live a life of constant and simultaneous sorrowing and rejoicing.

Rarely does a week go by for me that I am not one inch away from despair in ministry – literally plotting my escape. And rarely does a week go by that I am not utterly amazed at the glory that God allows me to see in a transformed life, either my own, or someone else’s. Why is life constant sorrow and constant joy. Because that’s what Christ’s life was? Because that’s what the cross was. The greatest of suffering merged with the greatest of joy.

Hebrews 12:2. looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Can you relate to a life of constant sorrowing and constant rejoicing? Does the way Paul described ministry surprise you? Can you relate to his description? How does it reflect our union with Christ  and his death and resurrection?

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