“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16–18 ESV)
We are indeed wasting away – our bodies are decaying this very moment. We are slowly breaking down, slowly falling apart. When we are young, we feel invincible, but as we age our mortality begins to set in. If you’re old enough then you’ve injured yourself getting out of bed, brushing your teeth or getting into your car – you din’t even have to goto the gym! Even as our external bodies are wasting away, our internal natures are growing stronger and more sanctified, more holy, more like brother Jesus if we have Him as the Cornerstone and Foundation of our lives. It is easy to “play church,” or know the right answers, but to seek Him and abide in Him is a whole different story. One makes you religious, the other makes you alive.
Paul experienced more pain and hardships than probably anyone that you have ever known. And yet, he sees all of his afflictions as light & momentary when compared to the eternal weight of glory that is to come. What!?!? Affliction in and of itself will never produce this in us. It is only when it is compared against the backdrop of eternal things. Far too often our minds are set on the things of this world (Romans 8:5-8), not on the things of God. We must set our minds on the things of the Spirit – there is an active component in us.
What are things that we should be thinking on? Things that we can’t see – and thus require faith (2 Cor 5:7, Romans 14:23, Hebrews 11:1-6) – are things such as the full restoration of all things by the sovereign Ruler of the universe, sitting at the table at the wedding feast of the Lamb enjoying perfect community with God and with others, working for God’s glory with no thorns & thistles, and enjoying a perfect paradise in the presence of the Almighty. Dwelling on these things make the hardships of this world seem light and momentary in comparison. It is what we behold and set our minds upon that marks us, shapes us and drives us.
Indeed Paul knew suffering & affliction to the point of despair (2 Corinthians 1:8), but he had discovered something far greater – a comparison that brought him supernatural comfort. This is when our afflictions lead to worship. Regardless of the challenges that are before you – severe medical issues, loss of a spouse or a child, loss of a relationship, work pressures or anything else, whatever you spend your time thinking about and, mulling over in your mind will mark you. Work towards that being the unbelievable nature of a perfectly powerful and holy God who would condescend to rescue a completely rebellious people. Be wowed by the fact that God makes His former enemies His friends. Think on that and see if it doesn’t change you. Lord, give us hearts to believe!
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