Aggravations

Friends of mine are finally building their “dream home.” The perfect location, plans that they helped design, space for an in-law suite, and views for miles…what’s not to love?

Moving. Moving is not to love.

Having started my married life as a Navy wife for the first eight years, I know the pain of frequent moving. During the first two years, we moved four times while my husband attended different flight schools. I never bothered to learn any of the zip codes. There was no point! It would change in a few months anyway.

In this FABULOUS passage in 2 Corinthians, Paul gives us a different spin on moving. He likens our earthly homes to tents, which have to be put up and taken down with some regularity as we relocate ourselves to different homes here on earth. But better things are coming, and we should be ready to talk about it!

2 Corinthians 4 (The Message)

13-15 We’re not keeping this quiet, not on your life. Just like the psalmist who wrote, “I believed it, so I said it,” we say what we believe. And what we believe is that the One who raised up the Master Jesus will just as certainly raise us up with you, alive. Every detail works to your advantage and to God’s glory: more and more grace, more and more people, more and more praise!

16-18 So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

My friend is hoping this will be her final move. She recently posted, “If I ever move again it will be too soon!” But this aggravation, and ALL of our aggravations, is here today and gone tomorrow.

What is aggravating you today? God promises to make a new life out of this old one where things are falling apart on us on a regular basis. We can claim, as Paul does, that not a day goes by without experiencing God’s unfolding grace. Today’s hard times are “small potatoes” compared to what is coming.

1-5 For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it!

So whatever you are going through right now, hold on to the fact that it is temporary. Life here on earth is temporary. And compared to eternity, this current aggravation is just a blink of an eye. All of our frustrations will melt away into nothingness compared to what’s ahead.

We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.

So hang on! Better things are on the way.

Heaven Awaits by Michelle Robertson

Every Kind of Aggravation

We are living in the days of every kind of aggravation. In all of my years of living, I have never experienced this level of sustained aggravation before. There were certainly times of grief, trial, exhaustion, and all manner of challenges, but not like this. How about you? I won’t even attempt to list them, but just a snapshot of trying to buy groceries once a week should give you a picture. Spoiler alert: there is a lot of WHINING in this next section.

I don’t report to work early on Sundays anymore since we are now taping the service on Thursdays. That should make for a nice, slow Sabbath. But in the early days of the pandemic, when I was still driving to church on Sunday to do Facebook Live, I discovered that my local Publix opened at 8AM and was very uncrowded…and the toilet paper was restocked every Saturday night.

So now I get out early on Sundays just to shop. That is the beginning of all kinds of aggravation. Mostly it is my N95 mask and disposable gloves that aggravate the heck out of me. By the time I speed through the aisles, being careful to follow the one-way arrows and social distancing, my claustrophobia is peaking and my hands are literally dripping with sweat. And even though I have a concise list, I spend time waiting my turn to go down an aisle that already has a looky-loo leisurely standing in front of an array of products and seemingly reading the ingredient list of each one. She can see me waiting (I dare not pass her) yet she lingers…and ends up not putting anything in her cart.

A friend and I were commiserating about the fact that we used to enjoy shopping and found it relaxing. Now it is like entering a war zone of mine fields, and your heart is racing to just get out. Not to mention all the shortages of products, resulting in having to think on the fly of different meals based on what is actually available. OK, RANT OVER.

Our passage from 1 Peter takes us away from whatever is aggravating us right now, and reminds us that we have been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for:

1 Peter 1 (The Message)

3-5 What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.

My mantra for months now has been, “we are one day closer to the end of this thing.” Look at that last sentence: “The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—-life healed and whole.” Man, did I need to hear that this morning! How about you?

6-7 I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.

Peter reminds us that faith, like gold, gets refined in the fire. Folks, we are in the fire right now. What a time to refine our faith! What an opportunity to come out of this thing stronger, better, and more deeply connected with God because we’ve worked hard to stay in the Word. Think about it…what would you normally be doing right now? Our hustle-bustle life got slammed shut. God is inviting us to use the SLOW to reevaluate EVERYTHING.

8-9 You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.

What is God asking you to reevaluate today? Where do you need further refining? Will you go back to your old self when this is over?

I hope not. I hope that enduring every kind of aggravation right now bears the fruit of all kinds of godly behavior in all of us. And maybe I’ll learn to be more patient with the looky-loos in the grocery store. Anything is possible with God!

Another Day Closer by Lisa Lawrence