“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting
away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our
light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an
eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix
our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is
unseen. For what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal.”
(II Corinthians 4:16-18)
Thoughts… One of Satan’s chief tools is to discourage us by making our lives difficult. Through trying times, the Enemy tempts us to doubt God’s goodness and sufficiency. When we are hurting, it is not uncommon for us to wonder if God really loves us at all. And unfortunately, as we have all witnessed, discouragement has led some to even abandon their trust in God.
Since discouragement is common to all believers, has God provided a way to break free from its powerful currents? How do you pull out of the whirlpool of doubt? Paul gives the key in these verses. He says it is to live with what I would call an eternal perspective.
You have to develop an eternal perspective. You have to exercise the spiritual discipline of seeing life through God’s eyes, of filtering everything through the lens of Scripture. The only real answer to discouragement and doubt is to penetrate the fog of your present circumstances with spiritual vision that focuses clearly and steadfastly into the unfailing character and covenant faithfulness of God.
God has promised that your troubles here in this world are only momentary. Furthermore, they are not only ephemeral, they are purposeful—they are achieving in you something eternal. And in the light of eternity, your troubles now are nothing compared to the glory you will experience then. Your present troubles are the raw material for future glory. Therefore, Paul says, fix your gaze on the glory.
Now I don’t mean to minimize the pain that we have to endure in this life. It is never fun, and I wouldn’t wish pain on you or me for all the tea in China, even knowing the eternal glory that it is achieving. Yet Paul’s advice remains the same: Keep your eye on the prize, because if you endure, glory awaits. Just remember, what Satan means for harm, God uses for good. In fact, let’s not forget that God uses problems and pain in our lives to do some of his best work, not just for the life to come, but for the here and now. James 1:2-4 says,
“Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.”
In your light and momentary afflictions, God is producing good for now and glory for later! That truth reminds me of a story I came across several years ago of a man who lost his job, a sizable fortune, and his beautiful home. To add to his sorrow, his wife died. Yet he tenaciously held on to his faith, the only thing he had left.
One day when he was out walking in search of a job, he stopped to watch some men who were doing stonework on a large church. One of them was chiseling a triangular piece of rock. So he asked, “Where are you going to put that?”
The workman said, “Do you see that little opening up there near the spire? Well, I’m shaping this stone down here so that it will fit up there.”
Tears filled the man’s eyes as he walked away because the lesson was suddenly clear: God was chiseling his life down here so it would fit up there.
If you are going through the chiseling of a “light and momentary affliction”, hang in there! God is getting you ready for some eternal glory. And “up there,” it is going to be a great fit!
Prayer… Father, it is an awesome thing to be under your expert care. No matter what I am going through here and now, you are chiseling me for glory there and then. Help me to keep that perspective in every circumstance. Help me to remember at all times that my pain is nothing compared to the gain of being the object of your eternal love.
One More Thing… “Many men owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties.” —Charles Spurgeon