For the last three months we’ve watch Kathy’s mom, Jean Shively, wasting away a little each day. It was a difficult time for her and for us as well. Jean had some hard moments, but she also had some courageous moments as her faith sustained her through this struggle. It caused us to think about and talk about how we will face our own passing from this world. We’re not afraid of death, but dying does cause us some consternation. It’s easy to lose heart in the face of such a reality that sits before each and every one of us. Paul knew what that was like himself. He suffered the failings of the flesh. As he grew older, he couldn’t see, or hear, or walk as well as he had as a younger man. He watched death on its pale horse approaching and drawing closer with each passing year, yet he did “not lose heart.” He said that even though his “outer man was wasting away” his faith in Christ and what awaited him in the afterlife sustained him through it all. He wrote it down by the inspiration of God’s Spirit so that we could follow his lead. He said in 2 Corinthians 4:16 “We do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day” (4:16).

Paul explains that his ability to maintain courage in the face of “wasting away” in the flesh is based on something he cannot see. The renewing of his heart, the very source of his courage to face his own decaying body, is found in something rather strange. In verse 18 of the same passage he writes, “We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Just a few passages later Paul adds a summary describing his life on this earth, in this flesh, with these weaknesses. In 2 Corinthians 5:7, he says, “We walk by faith, not by sight.”

John Piper writes his commentary on this verse in his work entitled, “Future Grace.” He says, “This (walking by faith not by sight) doesn’t mean that he (Paul) leaps into the dark without evidence of what’s there. It means that the most precious and important realities in the world are beyond our physical senses. We ‘look’ at these unseen things through the gospel. By the grace of God we see what Paul called ‘the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God’ (2 Corinthians 4:4). We strengthen our hearts—we renew our courage—by fixing our gaze on the invisible, objective truth that we see in the testimony of those who saw Christ face to face.” This means that our hope is built upon the revealed truth of God’s promises recorded for us in the Bible. Living by faith is not a leap in the dark. It’s a step into the light! A step into the light is a step into the truths of Jesus Christ! After all, He is “the light of the world.”