2 Corinthians 6:10 - "Sorrowful, YET always rejoicing; poor, YET making many rich; having nothing, and YET possessing everything."
I read this scripture, and my first thought is "how"? How do I do this? How is this possible?
How can I be filled with sorrow, yet always rejoice? Notice the word, always. That is important to note. It is not "filled with sorrow, yet sometimes rejoicing". That makes more sense to me. I experience that personally often. I am often filled with sorrow over the loss of my mom and dad and other problems in our lives, yet I have days that I rejoice in what God has blessed us with.
But, "always"? That is a hard one. It is certainly something I think about, and strive to do..."always rejoice". Yet I often fail miserably.
"Poor, yet making many rich." How do I offer what I do not have myself?
"Having nothing, yet possessing everything." How can I be without, yet have everything?
Paul gives us examples of how we should live as followers of Christ. Here are a couple of thoughts...
1. Recognize it for what it is.
I am daily filled with sorrow over the loss of my parents and other problems I face each day - some connected to the loss, some not. Life right now is difficult. There are days that I am barely surviving.
I am not going to deny my feelings. I am not going to shelve my grief, because as a Christian I should be constantly rejoicing. I think Christ gives us permission to grieve, to feel the anger, to experience the pain. He does not want us to "pretend" we are okay when we are not. He created us to be whole humans. We feel, we think, we hurt, we struggle, etc.
We recognize we are lacking in so many areas. Our relationships are failing, our finances dwindling and our health is not 100%. We look at the areas of our lives and see lack and see only poverty.
So, I think that is the first step. We must be honest with ourselves and our situation, and allow ourselves to feel the pain in it. However, it can't obviously stop there.
2. Christ looks at the world differently than we do.
The things that we value, that we consider important or must haves for an abundant life are not what God values. He values eternity. We value this present life and our comfort while living in it.
We are lacking in so many worldly pleasures. These worldly pleasures are blessings, but they are not necessary to life with Christ. They are gifts from the Lord. They are not ours to hold on to or ours because we deserve them. They are given out of God's love and grace. Yet if we lose them or find ourselves without them, we can still have the abundant life that Christ offers. Because that abundant life is based on life in and with Christ, not on what we have or do not have. That abundant life is found in our hope in eternity with Christ. Heaven as our goal. The condition of our hearts is what is most important to Him, not the condition of our lives.
2 Corinthians 4:16 - "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day."
1 Peter 1:4-7 - "He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade...In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."
Jesus also says "blessed are those who mourn" - "blessed are the poor". Such an opposite understanding and view than the world we live in. But that is exactly what we see here, "sorrowful, yet rejoicing". He just simply sees things differently. We need to learn to see this life through His eyes and heart for us. We need to have an eternal perspective, and then maybe we would understand better how to be "this, yet this".
3. Paul gives us a reminder to dig in and hold on through the tough stuff.
Because God is our provision, and because he gives us abundant life through Christ - we can hold on and make it through whatever life brings. God will not always deliver us out of a situation, but He will deliver us through it. Meaning, we may not receive the answer or solution we desire - however, he will be with us and give us the provision we need to make it through victoriously. The victory comes in the "filled with sorrow, yet rejoicing". The victory is not in the resolution of our problem, it lies within our ability to rejoice even in the midst of the difficulty. To be joyful even in the midst of dispair. To have peace in the midst of chaos. To have wisdom in confusion. "Sorrow, yet rejoicing, rich, yet poor, having nothing, yet possessing everything."
John 16:33 - “I have spoken these things to you so that you shall have peace in me. You shall have suffering in the world, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”
We simply hold tight to his hand, and walk confidently on our journey knowing that he is with us and helping us make it through.
When I look at that scripture with these thoughts in mind, I can see how it is possible. I can see the hope in achieving that attitude in life. When I am willing to recognize my situation for what it is, yet feel God's hand of care and love through it - I am comfortable with allowing myself time to grieve and feel the pain of the loss. While simultaneously rejoicing in Christ - believing that I do not have to feel defeated in my grief and pain, but that joy, hope and life will come as a result of my faithful trust in Him. When I make an effort each day to look at this world through the eternal eyes of Christ, and see what is important and necessary - I can let go of the illusion that if I have these certain pleasures, I can live a blessed life. I realize that is a lie from the enemy. If I have nothing, I still have Christ. If He never does another thing for me, He forgave me. It is just as simple as that - when I am willing to view this life from his perspective. When I can remember to hold on to the One who holds my future and life in His hands, I can continue to walk through any situation that comes my way. I can walk through it with my head held high realizing that even if he doesn't deliver me out of the sorrow, He will be with me in the sorrow. I am not alone. If I can just hold on...
So, is it possible to be "filled with sorrow, yet always rejoicing" or "having nothing, yet possessing everything"? Yes, with Christ it is possible. But it is only with him. And it is a daily, conscious effort and decision to accept what is happening in my life, but to choose to have a good attitude through it - knowing that God is in control and will provide exactly what I need to make it through. I do not need and neither is right for me to walk with my head hung low. I need to walk with my head held high. Even if on some days, I am barely walking and tears are running down my face because the pain is so real and so tangible - my head is still head high. My eyes still fixed on Him.
Such a difficult thing to attain, but God - with your help, with time in your presence, I know it is possible.