A couple of months ago, Pastor Kingsbury began to preach a series of messages on a phrase in the Old Testament, “be strong in the Lord and of good courage.” I missed this very first message as I was preaching to the NLBBC (college) class at the same time. After this particular message on a Wednesday night, I received a text from Steve Curington who asked me to meet him right away. This was not unusual, as he would often share excitement with me, and was he ever excited! He began to tell me of Pastor’s sermon. He was so thrilled about this series and thought it was exactly what our RU staff, graduates, and students needed. “Change was in the air,” and he just knew God had given Pastor this series of messages to walk us through the next phase of our Reformers Unanimous ministry. He even had me to order the tape so we could play it at staff meeting, since several staff members were not able to be in the service due to other church obligations. I now look back and see God’s hand…
After that night, as I often do, I studied this topic along with my Pastor. I found the Apostle Paul using the word “confident” in 2 Corinthians which means “to exercise courage”. Paul showed the Corinthians why he does not “lose heart” in spite of all the troubles and afflictions (4:8-12). Paul says to “faint not” especially in view of the fact that our body is wearing away. Look at 2 Corinthians 4:16, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward manis renewed day by day.” The words “faint not” basically means to not “lose heart.”
It is crucial that you not lose heart. Some of you have taken such a pounding – physically, financially, emotionally, and personally – that you have often been tempted to “lose heart” or to give up; to say, “It isn’t worth it” or “who cares?” Paul faced the same temptation (vv. 8-12) and the end of this chapter holds one of the keys to why he did not lose heart. But first, notice these two verses in the next chapter:
“Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:” (2 Corinthians 5:6)
“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8)
That word “confident” is the same word used in other places as “good courage” and not “losing heart”. Where did Paul get this confidence or courage??? His renewed heart…his courage…his confidence comes from something very strange: it comes from looking at what he can’t see! This is the basis of his confidence! Chapter 4, verse 18, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
This is Paul’s way of not losing heart…looking at what he couldn’t see!
So Paul renews his inner man by looking to unseen things. He looks forward to having a body that is incorruptible (5:1-3). To fast forward and get that body that will know nothing of corruption. Paul says he prefers something he cannot really see…to be absent from his body and to be present with the Lord. Paul prefers to be absent from the body to living on here, because he loves Christ more than he loves anything else. To be absent from the body will mean to be at home with the Lord; a deeper intimacy and greater desire than anything here on earth. Paul goes on to say in verse 9, “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.” Paul realizes that though he would rather have that glorified body and be in the presence of Christ, he will continue to labor – to be strong in the Lord and of good courage; to press on by faith, not by sight.
My dear friend, Steve, is enjoying His presence with the Savior. That night he texted me following Pastor’s sermon, he had a sense that Pastor’s series would help us in our next steps of faith in our ministry and I am here to testify weeks later, through a difficult season, “Steve, you where right! Being strong and of good courage – trusting what we cannot fully see – has been one of the many helps through these days.”
Examine yourself. Do you share these biblical priorities and values in life? Do you walk entirely by faith, trusting what you cannot see?
The Unseen Hand:
There is an unseen hand to me,
That leads through ways I cannot see.
While going through this world of woe,
This hand still leads me as I go
I’m trusting to, the unseen hand,
That guides me through this weary land.
When some sweet day I’ll reach that strand,
Still guided by the unseen hand.
This hand has led through shadows drear,
And while it leads I have no fear.
I know t’will lead me to that home,
Where sin nor sorrow n’er can come.
I long to see, my Savior’s face,
And sing the story “saved by grace”.
And there upon that golden strand,
I’ll praise him for his guiding hand.