“So we do not lose heart.” 2 Corinthians 4:16a
This coming Sunday, one of our lectionary readings is from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. We hear him writing from his heart to the community he longs to visit.
Times have been extremely difficult for Paul, but he speaks from the midst of his afflictions about the love, the grace, the mercy and the consolation he knows in God through Christ Jesus.
And even though his own troubles continue, he writes to these people he loves, to tell of his experience of the consolation and love of God, to encourage them, so that they might share in this experience of consolation through Christ as well.
It’s as if Paul is reminding them of what they already know.
When we are in the middle of tough times, especially when it lasts a long time, or happens repeatedly, we can retreat into ourselves, or into our own small communities. It’s easy to lose sight of our guiding lights that are beyond ourselves. We can start to doubt ourselves, or each other, or the faith that holds us. We can lose touch with who we are and the gifts and graces of God that we bear. We need reminding of what is true.
At the same time, in a strange way, it’s sometimes when we are in the midst of tough life experiences that we can be more deeply in touch with our hearts than when life is running smoothly.
In the middle of his afflictions, Paul is in touch with the depths of his heart. He speaks from his heart, to the hearts of those he loves. He reminds them of the God who loves them. He reminds them of the ground of their faith. He reminds them of the hope and confidence they share, and of why “we do not lose heart”.
As communities of faith, we can do the same. God speaks to our hearts through people of flesh and blood. From the midst of tough times, we can share in reminding each other of the things that hold us, of the God who holds us.
No matter where we are, no matter our situation, we can reach out to each other: to our family, friends, loved ones, those down the street or around the corner, to those far afield or across the waters, to strangers, to those who most need to be encouraged from the heart.
We can remind each other in words or actions.
We have the gift of each other. We can carry the gift of God to others, speaking encouragement from the language of our hearts.
On this page, many have written words of encouragement from the language of their hearts … as a gift to us all. We are called into community in Christ so we do not lose heart. May you be encouraged, and pass this gift on to others.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you, and remain with you always.
Rev Denise Liersch