Today’s readings.. (2 kings 8), (Lamentations 4), (2 Corinthians 1), (2 Corinthians 2)
We live in extremely uncertain times. Times of anger , war and violence. Children can sense the attitudes of older people and acute anxieties ‘transmit’ into their minds so that they need the reassurance of faithful parents. When such is absent, they are perplexed.
In this ungodly 21st Century genuine reassurance that comes from real faith will become more and more necessary both for ourselves, and for us to set an example and to try to reassure children and any whose faith is faltering. Such reassurance must be seen to have a sound foundation.
The worlds leaders are soon to gather in Poland on the 80th anniversary of the beginning of World War 2. The memories of the First World War, which had finished only 21 years before when some 5 million people died was still a vivid memory for all those over 30. A sense of great anxiety was the dominating mood and their fears proved only too true; 6 years of horror followed, far more powerful weapons were used, heavy bombs from much more powerful planes and it is said that something like 20 million died, including 6 million Jews.
Now our reading today in 2 Corinthians ch.1 & 2 illustrates how Paul puts into a positive light the great affliction he and others had recently experienced. He looked at such afflictions from God’s perspective. He writes: “For we do not want you to be ignorant brothers of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God“ [1 v.8,9].
Events during that time caused those who really believed in the God of the Bible to grow in real faith. Faith is not a ‘static’ frame of mind, it must either grow or fade away. The ‘mind’ that possesses faith is a mind that needs to be exercised, like we exercise our muscles. The time is surely going to come, and maybe quite soon, when, if we have not learnt to rely on God, the ‘oil’ in our lamps of faith will be found lacking.
Finally, note another point Paul makes, he asks the question, “Do I make my plans according to the flesh?” [v.17] This question makes us think of today’s political dramas and never ending conflict of opinions. Paul sees human planning as being “ready to say, ‘Yes, yes’ and ‘No, no’ ” at the same time? (1 v.17-19) Only those who know the true gospel, and practice genuine reliance on God, know how to think and plan positively for the future, especially for the eternal future. Paul concludes by stating [v.24], “we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.” May that also be true of us.