“He loves me
And here am I;
Sick in bed
But dancing in my head.
He loves me
And here am I;
Dancing in the morning light.” – Miss Angie (1999)
“So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.” (2 Cor. 4:16, NRSV)
Well, not completely hairless. But perhaps you can see in the pictures above that Jack, the Bible Study Dog, has lost hair on the crown of his head, on his chest and front legs. What you cannot see is that he has lost all of his hair on his stomach, some hair on his back legs and a little patch on his rear. His hairline is receding on his head and on his sides. It looks like an encroaching desert. The vet says that Jack Lewis has a bacteria. She would like to do a biopsy, which is very expensive. The good news is that Jack doesn’t have MRSA. My research has shown that Jack Lewis may have a condition that sometimes spontaneously reverses (I suspect that that happens more often with prayer!). So we are not, at this point, going to get the biopsy.
However, Jack Lewis, the Bible Study Dog (BSD), does not seem to have any discomfort. He doesn’t scratch excessively. The BSD is the same alert, eager, high energy dog, with culinary and social interests, that he has always been. We started the Thursday night Bible study again two weeks ago. The BSD was in high form: greeting people, trying to untie shoe laces and dozing off on someone’s lap.
All of this reminded me of the verse above. We are wasting away on the outside but are being renewed (constantly being made new, refreshed) on the inside. Jack Lewis looks like he is falling apart but he is happy and alert on the inside. The analogy breaks down when we remember that Jack is not having any pain and even a bad cold or tooth ache tends to rob us of our happiness.
The larger context for our text includes St. Paul referring to the persecution, hardship and affliction that the true apostles have endured. And then there are these perhaps surprising words: “But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.” (2 Cor. 4:7-10, NRSV) Though we go through awful affliction, nonetheless God places a limit on his servants’ challenges: we are “struck down, but not destroyed”. And further, there is a purpose for our weakness: “so that it may be clear” that our gifts and ministry belong “to God and [do] not come from us.” I comfort myself with this, as I seem to face still another new health challenge after each one is resolved.
And then there is this: an eternal perspective makes a huge difference. Without an eternal perspective, is life even bearable? “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.” (2 Cor. 4:17-18, NRSV) Compare your suffering to eternal glory. Look at the contrasts: temporary vs. eternal, seen vs. unseen, slight momentary affliction vs. an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure. If we really believed this, we would live with confidence and courage.
I got to go. Jack wants me to go to bed; he insists on sleeping tightly wedged against my leg. I guess we comfort each other in our different ways (licking is not one of my love languages!).
This post was powered by: the song, “Dancin’ In My Head” from the album, “Triumphantine” (1999), by Miss Angie, the album, “Moontraveler” (2008), by Aaron Sprinkle, and the albums, “The Changing of the Guard” (2010) and “IAMACEO” (2013) by Starflyer 59.