HOLDING FAST

The Upper Room devotional reflection for Sunday, September 11, 2022, comes to us from Christine Adhikari of Georgia.

7 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. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.11 For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you… 16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18 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 Corinthians 4:7-12, 16-18 NRSV


28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 NRSV

 

HOLDING FAST


As a young child, I was diagnosed with several conditions affecting my eyes, joints, and blood vessels. Despite a childhood full of medical appointments and eye surgeries, I eventually lost sight in my right eye. Forty years later, it is by God’s grace that I have any vision at all. Honestly, all that I’ve gone through sometimes seems a bit senseless, and I don’t feel like my faith has been strengthened as a result. I am thankful for God’s blessings; but while scripture says we should have patience in suffering (see Romans 12:12), I just want the surgeries and pain to end.


My perspective widened when I joined a prison ministry a year ago. As I nervously shared my story in front of a gymnasium full of women, everyone was silent and I couldn’t see any faces. But by the time I reached the end, there were shouts of “Amen!” and “Hallelujah!” Women came to hug me afterward with tears in their eyes. Perhaps when suffering does not refine our faith it can offer inspiration for others. While I may not feel like my faith has grown because of my health, I have not abandoned it. Rather, I hold on to faith despite my trials. And maybe that’s what really matters.

 

-Friends,

Hardships and challenges test our faith, especially when we have to endure without a clear resolution. The Apostle Paul asked God three times to remove a thorn – an unknow hardship – from his life. Each time God responded with: "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor 12:10 NRSV). Christine’s reflection offers us an honest observation of longsuffering, the questions that emerge, and the frustration that accompanies. Yet, amidst her struggles, Christine offers us a profound insight: “Perhaps when suffering does not refine our faith it can offer inspiration for others.” May you find hope and strength to endure challenging seasons, recognizing that your story of perseverance may be the inspiration others need to endure their own.

--Pastor Anthony

 
Prayer:

Dear Lord, in spite of our suffering and trials, help us to hold steadfastly on to you. Empower us to share our stories so our vulnerability may be a gift to others. Amen

-- Christine Adhikari


Prayer Focus:

Those living with chronic illness.


Thought for the day:

Even when my pain feels senseless, I can share hope through vulnerability.