For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
2 Corinthians 4:17
There is a great disparity between the present and the future for the Christian. When we grasp the magnitude of that discrepancy, the present becomes much more tolerable.
What is your complaint today? Is it the shooting pain in your worn out knees? How about the frustration of your financial status? You can't seem to get ahead no matter how hard you try. Or maybe you have stress, persecution, or grief.
No matter what the problem, balance it in the scale of history. It may seem overbearing to you; a load with which you don't think you deal. However, if you stare into the deep recesses of eternity, you will find that your current experience is greatly lightened.
Consider the comparison Paul makes:
Paul speaks of our sufferings in this world as light and momentary. He does not seek to downplay the seriousness of your pains. Neither does he want us to believe they are merely trifles about which we should just "buck up."
Paul calls them light because they are temporary and mild in comparison to the wonderful blessedness that we shall enjoy in the world to come.
This then should be your thought process when faced with suffering:
1. Think of the extent of eternity in comparison to the shortness of your life her on earth (or the length of the trouble you currently experience - a couple days, weeks, maybe years?). Your chemo will last a few months. Your children will be grown and out of the house in the blink of an eye. These are but a blip on the scale of eternity.
A thousand years from now you will likely barely remember your present afflictions. It may even be hard to recollect the feelings of sadness and sorrow because your life has been filled with the sunshine of happiness for what seems to be eons. You will have laughed so much, smiled so brightly, received such love, and enjoyed so much satisfaction that the memory of today will be faded beyond recognition.
2. Think of the weight of your coming joy. The cross you now bear will be feather-like by comparison. Again, we do not downplay our hardships. We merely put them in perspective. The scales of time and the mass of the coming blisses will tip in your favor.
Have you ever been buried in the sand? Do you remember the feeling of its weight pressing down upon your chest? What if that mound of sand was doubled? tripled? quadrupled? Would there be any distraction on the beach that could take your mind away from the load bearing down on you?
Heaven's glories will be like that. The sheer density of their richness will thrill you beyond anything you've likely enjoyed in this world. The storehouses of heaven's euphoria will accumulate in compounding measures, such that what is now weighing upon your heart will be whisked away like brittle leaves in the wind.
3. Think of the glories to be revealed. You presently experience afflictions, but you will experience something radical which the Bible - in the limited language of humanity - calls "glory."
This word was synonymous in the ancient world also meant "heavy." The glory of God was so profound that it could only be described as something that had excessive mass. Keenly odd, since, being spiritual in nature, it has no real weight at all.
These glories we only "know in part" now, but we see through the dimly lit glass of Scripture to behold them. They include such things as a glorified body, heavenly fellowship with fellow saints, no spot or trace of sin, and - above all - intense communion with God.
4. Think of how impossible it is for you to even begin to capture how tremendous the coming delights will be. Paul's ends with the words "beyond all comparison." This sounds pretty wonderful, but it should be noted that this is a poor translation. It does not even begin to convey what the apostle intends.
Literally Paul says "beyond hyperbole into hyperbole."
The word hyperbole in Greek means "a throwing beyond." In English we use this word to describe an exaggeration, something that is so far fetched it seems thrown beyond reality.
Paul doubles the word (hyperbole into hyperbole) to stress the surreal nature of what heaven will be like. The glories of heaven will be exaggerated beyond all exaggerations that we can now muster. That is to say, your greatest overstatement is but a far cry from the reality that you will behold.
Dare we even call it joy? For what we currently understand as joy is a sad expression of what it will be like when we come to be at Jesus' side. Today's love will be shown to be fools gold in comparison to the purity of angelic love we will receive in heaven.
Paul says, "Go ahead. Try to imagine how wondrous it will be. I guarantee that you will fall woefully short of what God has in store for you."
How then can our present difficulties really compare? Are they not light and momentary? Do we not already experience some great degree of alleviation just by having our thoughts flit so imperfectly to the paradise that is to come?
The Book of Joshua
"Our Promised Inheritance"
Joshua 13 & 14
An Overview of the Prophets
Amos, Hosea, & Micah