Even If

Even if.

I woke up with that phrase on my mind last week, and it’s been echoing ever since. 

Daniel 3. The fiery furnace, and the three young men who said, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it…But even if He does not…”

Psalm 23. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.”

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…” 

Even if things look bad.

Even if things ARE bad.

Even if the worst happens.

“The Lord is faithful in all His words, and kind in all His works.
The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and kind in all His works.” (Psalm 145:13b, 17)

ALL His words, ALL His works. ALL His ways. And I don’t mind the repetition: ALL His works. Everything He does. He is always kind. Even when it doesn’t seem like it.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

In ALL things. Not just the pleasant ones. Not just the situations we wanted. Not just in what we can understand. In ALL things, in EVERY circumstance, He works for our good.

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Corinthians 5:1)

Our earthly ‘home’ — that’s our bodies. Even if our bodies are destroyed. Even if I die. If this body dies — and it will, at some point — even though it’s all I’ve known so far, I’ve got nothing to worry about. It’s just a tent. I’ve got a solid, strong building waiting for me. An eternal one. This body will die, yes, but then? Life. Forever. And THAT is our hope.

Our hope is not in living an easy life. Jesus Himself said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) It’s not about the here and now — except where the here and now has an effect on the eternal.

Our hope is not in not getting sick (although it’s okay to hope we don’t). Our hope is not in our loved ones staying healthy (it’s okay to hope that, too). Our hope is not in our bank accounts, or in the certainty that they will stay full. While we can hope FOR health and ease, our true hope is not IN our physical health, not in our jobs, not in our savings, not in our families, not in how well our government handles things or even in how right we were if they flub it up. Our hope is not in anything on this earth.

“…we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

“…in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began… For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…” (Titus 1:2 and 2:11-13)

Our hope is in God, and God alone, through Christ Jesus and His sacrificial payment for our sins. He has adopted us and promised us life — a joyful home with Him forever! This world is not our home; we’re just passing through, on a journey to eternity in person with Him. 

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

But what if our affliction isn’t light? What if it doesn’t fit our definition of momentary? Paul, who wrote those words, had experienced a laundry list of terrible things most of us can (thankfully) only imagine. He wasn’t speaking lightly, no pun intended. He wasn’t being flippant, or glossing over the hard stuff. He’d been stoned til they thought he was dead. He’d been imprisoned for years for sharing the good news of Christ. He’d been “afflicted in every way…perplexed…persecuted…struck down…” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9) Countless beatings. Three shipwrecks. Sleepless nights. Danger everywhere. Hard work. Hunger. Cold. Anxiety. (2 Corinthians 11:23-29) And Paul calls all of that “light momentary affliction” in the light of what he knows is coming. Eternal life with Christ, because of Christ.

So. “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2)

Then, we’ll be able to say, and mean, “even if.”

What a beautiful peace that will be.

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