“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day”(2 Corinthians 4:16 ESV).
Yesterday we considered that we are seeds, and that seeds must be planted and die to become that which they were destined. As I write this I am quarantined with strep throat. I’ve experienced much worse in my days, but this serves as one more reminder that my body is wasting away.
Life is a fragile balance. There are things that we can do to give ourselves a better chance at avoiding sickness– a proper diet, exercise, adequate rest–but it doesn’t take much to imbalance the scales. And oftentimes sickness and disease find their way to us in a cruel, random way.
It really doesn’t matter how it finds us, the message is clear; we are wasting away.
But the degradation of our mortal bodies, no matter how cruelly it reveals itself, is not what defines us. It is the inner man that defines us. Who we are, really. The heat and pressure that we endure as inhabitants of this rock serve only to produce the diamond that we are becoming.
I am most grateful for the body that God provided for me, flaws, susceptibilities and all. It gives hands and feet to the person I am becoming on the inside. How else can we demonstrate our faith. Yes, “by grace you have been saved through faith. And it is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8 ESV). But, “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17 ESV).
Some people have bodies which don’t work at all. Their faith and love is all they have. And as they wait eagerly for the redemption of their bodies (Romans 8:23), their “inner self is being renewed day by day.”
I think we spend too much time focused on the frailty of our bodies, too much time worried about what we can and cannot do, or how we are aging, to much time fretting the reflection in the mirror, and not enough time working on our inner selves. Our bodies may be our place of residence for a hundred years, but who we are inside will live forever.
While I most definitely don’t enjoy being sick, it can be a nice reminder that this body is only my temporary residence. It lends perspective so that I can redefine my priorities. My house has been weathered with time. The roof has lost some shingles. It isn’t as energy efficient as it was when it was first built. But the home on the inside is becoming more and more beautiful with each passing day.