Don’t Despair over the Withering!

Don’t Despair over the Withering

Our God is immutable! That means He never changes. We know this by His revelation. He says in Malachi 3:6, “I am the LORD, I do not change.” And in Hebrews 13:8, it says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Our God never changes; however, we do. Our life is one of constant change. Our lives could be analogically described by using the four seasons.
From birth to around 20 years of age we are in the Spring of life. Everything about us is growing and moving from weakness to strength. From 20-40 years, we are in the Summer of life. We have matured and are no longer growing as we did in the Spring of life. We peak in our function and prosper; however, we begin to notice that we are not as “green” and lively as we were prior to our 20’s. We enter the Autumn or Fall of life between 40 and 60 years of age. This is a time when we begin to see some real changes in the diminishing of strength in all aspects of our bodies. Our sight and hearing begin to dim. We can’t do the same types of activities like we used to, and if we try it takes a whole lot longer for us to recover. Then we begin the Winter of our lives from our 60’s till we die. There’s a lot more snow on the roof if you know what I’m saying! All of the Autumn decreases are magnified. We try to use all the technologies available to mitigate this loss of strength. However, there’s really nothing we can do to stop this digression.
The bible says in Isaiah 40:6-8 and 1 Peter 1:24-25, That “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass, the grass withers and its flower falls away, but the Word of the Lord endures forever.” This aging process, illustrated metaphorically in the previous paragraph, is the withering that all flesh experiences because of the fall of Adam into sin. I rest of mankind experiences this because Adam was the federal head of the human race in the garden of Eden. “In Adam’s Fall, we sinned all” as Benjamin Harris’ 1690 New England Primer states. We are all in this together (Christ excepted, of course!). Now this withering is annoying, frustrating and may cause us to despair. But don’t! Don’t think like the world thinks about it, who spend billions of dollars each year trying to prevent it from happening, or at least making it look like no withering has happened! Rather listen to the Apostle Paul and think like him! He states, “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
Paul doesn’t despair over the withering! He doesn’t lose heart. Why? He recognizes that the outward man, our bodies in this life, are perishing. He doesn’t deny that or try to stop it from happening. But he sees something else going on. He says, “the inward man is being renewed day by day.” What is this inward man but the “new creation” we have in Christ? He says in 2 Cor. 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” That is what we are in Christ! It is in the indicative mood. It is what we are in Christ by His doing. So, we must be who we are! The first step to that is to recognize who we are in Christ. As you read the Bible you will see who you are in Christ if you’re paying attention. It’s easy to skim over verses, which state who we are in Christ, to get to the imperative statements, the commands. We want to be people of action! We want to do before we see who we are! But in truth, we can only obey the imperatives because of the indicatives! In the book of Ephesians, the first three chapters really focus on the indicatives of who we are in Christ. Then in chapter four, Paul shifts to more imperatives, usually signaled with the word “therefore.” So, we can obey the imperatives based on who we are in the indicatives! That’s the biblical order! It says, “This is what you are in Christ, now act like it!” Let’s consider an important indicative.
Paul writes in 2 Cor. 5:1-7; “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, 3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. 4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Paul doesn’t despair of the withering of this life because “we know that if our earthly house, this tent,” (referring to our bodies) “is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” That is what we have in Christ! So, as our bodies are withering here, we look to our heavenly mansion, “eternal in the heavens.” Here we groan and are burdened but we look forward to being further clothed with immortality. He says that God has prepared us for this very thing! And that He has guaranteed it by giving us the Spirit. Guido De Bres, the principal author of the Belgic Confession of Faith wrote in his farewell letter to his wife prior to his martyrdom, “Here is not the place of our dwelling, but in Heaven. Here is our pilgrim-journey…Therefore, we must long for the real land, that is for Heaven…”
I quoted from 2 Cor. 4:17 earlier where Paul says that “for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” The withering we experience in this life, providentially ordered by God, is His eternal purpose for us. We are just passing through this life. We are pilgrims and aliens heading toward our heavenly homeland! And God is preparing us for that eternal homeland in the here and now! So, whatever season of life you currently find yourself, don’t despair over the withering! To do that we must “walk by faith, and not by sight,” as quoted above. By faith we consider who and what we are in Christ because of His finished work and His sovereign working of applying that to us. If we walk only
“by sight,” it would be easy to despair because we are focused on the withering. This life the Bible calls withering grass, vapor, passing shadows compared to our God who is a rock. Think about that difference. The former is light, wispy with little or no weight. Whereas a rock is solid, firm, weighty. Christ is that “Rock of Ages” in whom we hide and abide until He changes us forever! Don’t despair over the withering!

James Snyder, Elder
Christ Reformed Church
Minot, ND

The Son of God is Not Forsaken | Growing the RCUS

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