16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Cor 4:16-18 ESV
Recently I had the opportunity to summit 14,000 ft. Mt Sneffels near Ouray Colorado. Although it was only about 2.5 miles from the trail-head to the summit, the last half mile was an exposed third and fourth class ridge-line that in many ways resembled an alpine mountaineering objective more than a hike. After multiple route-finding issues and exposed scrambles on loose rock, I found myself lightheaded, dizzy, and slightly disoriented as I neared the summit. Every step seemed difficult and labored, so I briefly considered bailing and retreating down the mountainside.
After taking a short break, the AMS symptoms subsided. I couldn’t see the top, but I could hear ecstatic voices ringing out from above, so I knew I was close. With the hope of the summit firmly in my heart, I was able to push on and was rewarded with one of the most spectacular and awe inspiring summit views I have experienced.
In the book of Second Corinthians, the Apostle Paul describes the extreme hardship that he and other first century believers experienced. Paradoxically, he stresses the hope followers of Christ have in the midst of incredibly trying circumstances; hard pressed but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair. His secret? Although from the outside it seemed they were wasting away, inwardly they were being constantly renewed. This vibrant inner renewal allowed them to focus on what is unseen and find hope in the eternal and the strength to press on.
During this season of COVID-19, it can feel much like climbing a challenging mountain; every step seems harder than the last. Every area of life now seems more challenging than it once did. As Paul did, we can find hope in the unseen, the eternal. We can trust in the plans of our heavenly Father knowing that our light and momentary afflictions are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs them all!