Paul utters words that sound unattainable, “So we do not lose heart”(2 Corinthians 4:6). The disturbing truth of living in a fallen world is that there are always good reasons to lose heart. Losing heart is a natural knee-jerk response to earthly losses. No one is impervious to pain. Pretending to be invulnerable is not maturity. Be real, not fake.
Being real with our losses, however, does not mean we will lose heart. Losing heart involves buying the lie that those losses are all there is. Don’t let your losses trick you into thinking you are losing everything. Here is the secret for not losing heart: there are always good reasons to lose heart, but the reasons to take heart are always bigger and better and longer lasting.
Paul offers a more excellent way for looking at life’s losses: walk by faith, not by sight. The things we see by sight are real but temporary. The things we see only by faith are both real and eternal. Looking at present losses is a prescription for losing heart. Fix your eyes by faith on the unseen and eternal.
In 2 Kings 6, when the Syrian army surrounds Elisha and his servant, it looks like they have no chance. What are two people against a whole army? But physical sight was deceiving in this case. So Elisha prayed that his servant would start seeing the unseen. 2 Kings 6:17, “So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” Elisha’s servant thought he had good reasons to lose heart, but Elisha helped him see that there were better reasons to take heart. Paul is like Elisha, and he is helping the Corinthians learn to see the things that can be seen only by faith.
We must distinguish between our felt needs and our forever needs. The gospel guarantees that our forever needs are fully met, but the Lord also uses present sufferings as the sharp whittling tool that actually produces future glory (2 Cor. 4:17). Future glory so outweighs present sufferings that it will make all the sorrows of this present age seem like a mere “watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4).