A young couple sensed a call to become missionaries. They answered the call and served in a remote village in central Africa. For thirty years they ministered to the people of that village. The couple translated the New Testament into the local language. They helped the people improve their agricultural techniques, tended to their sick and became respected and loved members of the village. It was twenty-five years before a villager received Christ and was baptized. Until that time the couple walked by faith and not by sight convinced that the Holy Spirit was moving even though they couldn’t see it. The couple served faithfully for thirty years and did not lose heart before they were called back to the States.
Paul didn’t have an easy time. He suffered several hardships: shipwrecks, beatings, imprisonment and hunger. The most disconcerting and discouraging events that he encountered, though, were the discord and internal fighting of the church at Corinth and other congregations that he started. He preached a gospel of love and grace but many of the people were anything but loving and gracious to each other. Still, as Paul writes he did not lose heart; he walked by faith and not by sight.
All of us have faced and will face difficult, discouraging events in our lives. These may be times when we doubt the truth of God’s presence and power in our lives. We might try and fail over and over again. The temptation to give up might be a constant thought. As the Christians who have gone before us learned, we walk by faith and not by sight. We continue to love the unlovable, forgive the unforgiveable, serve the thankless and accomplish the difficult and the impossible. We do not lose heart.
2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10
So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling— if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.