For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NASB)
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NASB)
Do these statements encourage you? Our sufferings are nothing in duration. For these sufferings are but for a moment; but the glory we will share will be eternal. Sufferings will soon pass away; but the glory we will one day revel in will never be diminished; it only will increase and expand forever and ever.
Paul understood these things even though trials and troubles followed him ever since he began to preach Christ. He also believed they would follow him everywhere he went and even to the end of life. Paul understood that his sufferings were nothing when compared with the eternal glory which awaited him.
Paul wanted us to get two ideas in as emphatic a manner as possible; first, that all our afflictions are light, and secondly, that it was momentary, and soon passing away. His object is to contrast this with the glory that awaited him, as being heavy, and as being also eternal.
Our afflictions are working, producing, and affecting future glory. This is why we are to set our minds on what is to come. We must stop looking at the problems, the suffering, the afflictions and begin to look at the glory!
If we really take these last few verses to heart and begin to understand in more than a superficial way that in comparison to what is ahead of us- the joy, the wonder, the splendor, the glory- this stuff is nothing.
Can we focus on the glory?
Can you think about what eternity holds for us, the length of eternity compared to these 70 or 80 years we spend on earth? And not all of these years are full of the kind of suffering you are enduring right now.
As you pray about the burdens you bear, where is your focus? Is your focus in prayer, “God please end this” or is it “God be glorified?” We often use prayer as an opportunity to wallow in our problems, don’t we? I am going to be straightforward here and say we have to stop whining in prayer, and wallowing in our troubles using prayer as an excuse. This is not helpful. It is not helpful for us to meditate on the problem once we have done all we can do. Paul never would have made it if he lived focusing on the suffering, he understood that when it comes to suffering, our minds must be renewed and we must learn to focus on the glory to come.
Think of what God is accomplishing in this season of suffering. Think of the changes that have been made in your heart and life. Think of how your perspective has changed on things as a result of this trial.
Where then, should we as Christians turn when we are suffering from trials of many kinds? Where should we look for hope when we’re feeling discouraged or dismayed? The Bible gives us the obvious answer: we must look to the One whose promises are sure, whose power is unsurpassed, whose wisdom is eternal, and whose love is infinite. Whether we look to the provision of our heavenly Father, the Person of our Savior Jesus Christ, or the promises of Holy Scripture the point remains, hope is found in God alone.
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