2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” NKJV
For a long time, I have drawn comfort from this passage knowing that it was written by a man, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who had suffered greatly for the cause of the Kingdom of God. Yet, he brings us face to face with a clear and manageable reality that will enable us to press through any situation.
- He calls attention to the fact that we are all dying (naturally) daily. It begins the moment we are born but being renewed daily (spiritually) on the inside. This house of clay is temporary, but the house of the Spirit of God is eternal.
- He calls our sufferings and struggles, “light afflictions” but puts them in perspective telling us that they are “momentary” and are “working in us” something far more valuable than freedom from pain, stress, and difficulty in this life.
- He brings us face to face with the truth that what we see around us is “temporary”, but those unseen things in the Spiritual Realm are “eternal” and to be focused on. It keeps everything in perspective.
I’ve known people that were so courageous in their suffering that they and their courage will never be forgotten and always be an inspiration. One particular young man in Vietnam, who knew he was not going to live was so courageous that he refused to be extracted from the battlefield, held his position though mortally wounded and laid down cover so his comrades in arms could make it to safe cover. His selfless sacrifice and unyielding commitment to his brothers in arms are so indelibly imprinted upon my mind that I find it difficult to complain about anything because what I face is truly “light affliction.” Compared to his and the sufferings of others this is “light.”
I’ve seen people terminally ill who refused to lie down and die but continued to minister to others even in the most excruciating pain. They knew their life was soon to be over but that those they were ministering to would live on for years and their focus became the strengthening of that which remained to advance the Kingdom rather than focus on their present condition.
How, can I complain when I remember things like that? When I think of the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross and the preparation for the Cross, I realize that I should not complain about my “light affliction” but should strive to learn to turn it into a greater weight of glory for the Kingdom of God.
My present physical pain is minor compared to what many are facing daily and yet I find myself focusing on it from time to time and then coming under conviction about my “self-focus” when I could be focusing on matters of the Kingdom. I am not saying God gave me this pain, because He didn’t and know that He can and will bring full healing to my body and my wife.
What I am saying is that I am striving to keep my focus on the “unseen” and to minister in the “seen” to make a difference for eternity. The more I focus and invest myself in Kingdom Purposes, the less I focus on my current “light affliction” and the less it controls my thinking and the less it hinders. It is a ‘light affliction’ should I live my life in physical pain that is minor compared to eternity. Each of us has much to give and as frail human beings, so little time (considering eternity) to give it. Therefore, let us lift our eyes heavenward and our focus outward rather than inward, rejoicing in the opportunity to serve the King and advance His Kingdom!
May God bless you as you enjoy this beautiful day in the Lord!