Light in light of eternity
We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed…persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed… 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NKJV)
Paul was no Armchair Apostle. He didn’t sit around in some academic tower penning epistles and dispensing doctrine. Here’s how his resume reads:
Five different times the Jews gave me thirty-nine lashes.Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea…I have lived with weariness and pain and sleepless nights. Often I have been hungry and thirsty and have gone without food. Often I have shivered with cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. (2 Corinthians 11:24-27 NLT)
He knew the pain of persecution better than just about anyone else. And when he talks about being hard pressed, crushed, persecuted, and struck down, he’s speaking from a wealth of personal experience. So it’s more than fair to say Paul was an authority on affliction. Now notice how he relates his suffering to the truth of eternity:
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory… (2 Corinthians 4:17 NKJV)
Paul’s afflictions were anything but “light” by our standards. But when compared to the reality of eternity and the glorious destiny that awaits, he says it’s practically nothing. That would be an audacious statement coming from anyone else. But because it comes from an authority on affliction, it’s as true as truth itself.
Here’s what’s so wonderful about all this: The same principle that applied in Paul’s case applies to ours. Even though our afflictions seem light compared to Paul’s, they seem heavy to us. But when compared to the reality of eternity, to the unending state of blessedness that awaits God’s people there, it’s practically nothing.
Our affliction is always light in light of eternity!
“The created world is but a small parenthesis in eternity.” Sir Thomas Browne
Think About It…
What does this passage reveal to me about God?
What does this passage reveal to me about myself?
Based on this, what changes do I need to make?
What is my prayer for today?
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17 (NKJV)
Consistency breeds security. If you're an employer, you take comfort in knowing that you have consistent employees working for you. If your car needs to be fixed, you're going to take it to a mechanic who has consistently performed well. And if you're a coach, you'll probably draw up a play at the end of a tight game that puts the ball in the hands of your best and most consistent player.