"So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day." - 2 Corinthians 4:16
Lately losing heart is a daily struggle. With each news story, each vicious exchange over social media or in the government, each incidence of hatred and violence, each lessening of environmental protections, it gets a little harder to keep heart.
Paul also lived in challenging times: an empire occupying his homeland, time spent in and out of prison, and no sign of Jesus' return. Yet his letters are full of encouragement not to lose heart.
"Our inner nature is being renewed day by day," he wrote. Not at the end of time, but each day, right now. Despite the waste that erodes our outer nature—greed, cruelty, judgment, sin—our inner nature is continually renewed with hope, joy, love, grace.
It is easy to see the waste throughout our society. It is much harder to see the renewal. Last year in Charlottesville many were shocked at the open display of hatred. Hadn't we come farther than this?
Yet when clergy stood with only prayer and hymns in the face of screaming, spitting, armed white supremacists, their inner nature shone. The outer nature of fear was revealed to be a waste in the face of their courage and love.
Through that courage, Jesus' promise is made incarnate now, the promise to bring good news to the poor, to let the oppressed go free. Through that love, our inner nature is renewed; we find hope again.
Lord, help us not to lose heart. Let hate and fear waste away, while hope is renewed. Amen.
Rev. Liza M Neal is a Spiritual Director and writer, ordained in the United Church of Christ, serving in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts.