Do not lose heart

Ugh, my spirit feels crushed.

Do you ever feel like you don’t measure up? I don’t measure up. Apart from Christ, I am worth nothing. I’ve been reminded of this more than ever. Even told as much – to my face – from others.

Lately I have felt unwanted and not liked by several people. It feels yuck to know people don’t prefer me, understand me or value me.

Have you ever felt hurt by relationships?

From our wounds, the easy is to speak bad about others that speak bad about you. From our pain, the easy is to lash out in anger, to spew ugly words and be mean back. The easy is self-protection, shutting down, building walls and guarding our hearts. The easy is passive aggressive, smart remarks, woe is me and manipulation.

The easy is what my flesh wants.

God reminds me of 2 Corinthians chapter 4 and the endurance He expects from me. He does not want me to lose heart. He doesn’t want you to lose heart either.

This ministry to which I am called is from His mercy. This ministry is what He has birthed in me. He has done the work, He is only asking me to stay the course. He is reminding me “do not lose heart.”

Even when you hear from others or interpret for yourself as idiot, incompetent, worthless, and failure.

Keep renouncing disgraceful and underhanded ways. Don’t receive that negativity.

Continue to refuse to tamper with God’s word. Hold fast to truth and commend yourself in the sight of God. What the world thinks or does doesn’t matter. What matters is obedience to God.

Stay obedient in the face of adversity, ridicule and questioning. If people can’t see Jesus in us, it is only hidden from them because they don’t know Him. So give grace, piles of it. The god of the world blinds unbelievers. They can’t see the light of the gospel of the spectacular glory of Christ. They can’t see that He is the very picture of God.

What we proclaim is not us, but Jesus Christ as Lord. We exists as servants for the sake of Jesus. Our crazy is about Him and for His glory.

God said, “Let light shine out of darkness.” The light is in us, in our hearts and it gives light. God’s light in us shows we know the glory of God because of Jesus Christ. We have a hope that can’t be denied. We are shining.

The light is a treasure. Our treasure is Jesus. And we carry this treasure around in a jar of clay. Jars of clay are easily broken. Jars of clay leak. Jars of clay are not always beautiful. Jars of clay can be for common use.

When we have our treasure in a clay jar, it becomes obvious to everyone that the surpassing power in us belongs to God and not us. We still struggle.

We are afflicted in every way, but we aren’t crushed. I may feel like my soul is crushed, but it’s only afflicted.

We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We may feel the symptoms of despair, but we carry around a treasure so we cannot despair. We are hauling around life.

We are persecuted, but not forsaken. No matter what anyone says against us or to us, no matter what hateful action is done to us or what neglect we feel, our Jesus does not forsake us. He’s with us. He is our treasure.

We are struck down, but not destroyed. Our hearts ache, we find ourselves in the fetal position, we mourn and grieve, we feel beat on and abandoned, but nothing destroys us.

In our jars we are carrying around the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus is apparent in us. Every day we live we are dying to ourselves for the sake of Jesus, so the life of Jesus can be lived out through our very human flesh. Isn’t it insanely beautiful that our daily dying that is working in us is giving the life of Jesus to others?!

Faith. God give me more. If I believe you, then I will speak and be a useful vessel for Your glory. My heart believes Jesus died for me, Jesus has forgiven me of my sins, Jesus loves me and one day I will be raised to be with Him. I can’t wait for that day.

My aching, my hurt, my sadness, my inadequacies are for the sake of Jesus. All of it for Jesus… the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. My pain counts. My joy counts. My prayers. My heaviness. My weariness. My brokenness. My battles. My laughter. My tears.

The more grace that can be extended the more thanksgiving will increase. As grace goes forth to more and more people, I will praise Jesus more, thank Him more, celebrate Him more. The grace giving is for His glory.

So, here we are, reminded we must not, can not, utterly refuse to lose heart. Our flesh is slowly dying every day. The grey hair, aching joints, sleepless nights are evidence of our aging. We look in the mirror and realize this aging, or dying, is legit.

Wait. With every day of dying, I realize I’m living more.  My inner self is renewing day to day. Every day, I am looking a bit more like Jesus. Maybe it’s tiny and the world cannot see it, but Jesus can see. He sees my heart is softer, more malleable, more open to His work. He sees my letting go and my brokenness and He is seeing a little of the Jesus He is ever so slowly transplanting into me. He is perfecting me. He is making me more alive every day. My body is dying, but I’ve never felt more alive in Jesus.

The feeling of rejection, neglect, criticism and abuse is temporary. Our darkest wounds are light and momentary afflictions. The glory He is preparing for us is beyond any and all comparison. Hallelujah this world is not my home and so I can strain and squint my eyes and get a glimpse of what is coming.

We make a choice to look past what we can see, to the things we can’t see and we run to the unseen because we know that we know that we know that it is infinitely better.

What we cannot see is what will last forever and the forever is what I am living for. So, we must let loose the things that want to entangle and break our spirit, and hold on to what is true. We must remember and come feast in His word and learn over and over again that we live under the mercy of God. Because of Jesus and the treasure we have, the dying is teaching us how to live. In our grace and faith living, eternity beckons us home.

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