“We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.” -2 Corinthians 6:3-10
“For Scripture praises the saints [Christians] for their forbearance when, so afflicted with harsh misfortune, they do not break or fall; so stabbed with bitterness, they are at the same time flooded with spiritual joy; so pressed by apprehension, they recover their breath, revived by God’s consolation. In the meantime, their hearts still harbor a contradiction between their natural sense, which flees and dreads what it feels adverse to itself, and their disposition to godliness, which even though these difficulties presses toward obedience to the divine will.”
Christianity provides a rich, deep, and comprehensive perspective on the interior life. In a time when distractions abound in our exterior life we need a powerful, practical and non-superficial way in which to understand and improve our interior life.
Calvin focuses intently on the interior life in our passage today. He shows us that Christianity does not hold to a naïve or a pessimistic view of the interior life of Christians. Instead, Christianity is honest yet hopeful. It is honest relative to the pain and dark side of life. Yet it provides hope amidst the darkness. Light comes after the darkness (post tenebras lux). Sometimes the darkness never fully leaves and the light mixes in with it. It is not the case that our faith is superficial or that it teaches us to hide from reality. It confronts reality head on. In other words, Christianity is gutsy, but comforting, too.
The person who has been stretched and compressed by opposing interior states is the one who will become the fullest, richest, deepest, and most useful in loving others and glorifying God. This person is what the world needs today. Let’s be people who draw unbelievers toward us with our depth of living, so that, they will look to the Triune God for salvation. May our sorrows increase our love. (Justin)