“And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
God is always giving to us. We like that. We are not as happy with the prospect of him taking things away. Our prayers are jammed with litanies of what he should provide and the prevailing deadlines he should adhere to. We are quick to notice when he appears to come up short.
Yet “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies” is not interested in simply giving to us. Rather, in his unfathomable way, he exchanges who we are and what we have for what he knows is far better. In passages all throughout 2 Corinthians he is preeminently the Great Exchanger, providing us grand gifts in place of those in our keeping.
Because God is Comforter, he willingly takes our sorrows and transforms us to share his comfort with others as they make their way along. And because he is mindful of our limitations, he allows the outcome of our burdens to bring us to a place of complete reliance on him. Precisely where we are undone, he is tuning our hearts to trust him implicitly. Self-reliance exchanged for God-dependence. The Father of mercies has created us to cling.
He is the Veil-Lifter, removing spiritual blindness for the spectacular sight of spiritual freedom. He is radiant Light, shining in our hearts, removing darkness to give “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). Where we are prone to stumble, he is beam and lantern, brightness and clarity, peeling away blinders and fitting us with insightful eagle eyes.
We are fragile “jars of clay”, weakness intrinsic to our form. Perplexed and afflicted, sometimes struck down. But he makes his grand offer and exhales his finest power where we feel most feeble. He is Father of mercies unlimited and true; we are recipients of strength for the days our “earthly tent” is home. And one day, he will make the great exchange there, too. Taking away our mere mortality, he will gift us with a “heavenly home,” trading in all our groaning for his ultimate glory.
Elizabeth A. Mitchell