Grace For The Journey
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Yesterday we looked at this verse and saw how we will not lose heart in life even as we lost strength toward the end of life. In verses 17 and 18 of this passage, God teaches us five important facts about affliction and how we can avoid not lose heart as we go through them.
- Affliction Is Real.
The word “affliction” literally means “pressure.”
It is not what we would call stress.
It is life-threatening,
It pictures a burden placed
On a person that can
Crush the life out of them.
The Bible uses it to refer to the trials, troubles, and tribulations that pressure the believer. Do not miss that!
Christians face affliction.
We face affliction,
In spite of our devotion to Christ.
. . . We face affliction,
Because of our devotion to Christ.
In John 16:33, Jesus says, “In the world you will have tribulation.” Acts 14:22 says “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
As a boy, I participated in a Kids Songs production. During a break, I played with my friend Reggie. Standing on a hill, I threw rocks down to him. He threw rocks back up to me. One rock busted me in the head. I ran onto the set screaming and covered with blood. When Reggie’s dad chastised him, I intervened, claiming that we were only playing. He reminded us both that rocks don’t have eyes. Neither does trouble. Affliction is real.
- Affliction is light.
Verse 17 describes affliction as “light.”
This seems to be a contradiction.
Affliction is the pressure of a burden
That is so heavy it may crush you.
Yet Paul says it is light. How can affliction be light?
The Greek term is only used twice in the New Testament. It is used here and in Matthew 11:30 where Jesus says, “For My yoke is easy, and My burden it light.”
The Lord gives burdens.
But His burden is light.
My dad told me about working on the farm when he was growing up. He said that his dad never put two strong or weak horse together. He would yoke a strong and weak horse together. The strength of one would compensate for the other.
So it is with the burden of Jesus.
His burden is light,
Because He always
Carries the heavy part.
If the burden of trusting and obeying Jesus seems too heavy, it is because you are trying to carry it on your own. But no burden is too heavy if you lean on Jesus.
- Affliction Is Momentary.
Not only does Paul describe affliction as light, he also calls it “momentary.” Affliction is just for the moment. This is no guarantee that your troubles will be brief. To the contrary, some burdens you will carry for years, decades, a lifetime. The Bible says in Psalm 90:10, “The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” But . . .
In Christ we have the assurance
That trouble won’t last always.
A mother makes his daughter spend the afternoon practicing the piano. She would rather be anywhere in the world. But the mother makes her stay at the piano, rather than going outside to play, because she knows that struggle today will produce music tomorrow. Psalms 30:5 says, “For His anger is but for a moment, and His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”
- Affliction Is Productive.
The Bible says, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” The Bible is not saying that suffering produces salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 is clear: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Affliction is not the way to heaven.
Christ is the way.
But there is a heavenly reward
To be won or lost.
2 John 8 says: “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.”
In a real sense,
Is spiritual preparation
For future glory.
This is why
We do not lose heart.
Our light and momentary affliction
Is preparing for us
An eternal weight of glory
Beyond all comparison.
If only you knew what God was preparing for you through the troubles you have to trust Him through now, you would not worry, complain, or give up. It is no comparison! The Bible says in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
5. During Affliction Have The Right Perspective On Eternal Realities.
2 Corinthians 4:18 says: “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 see are eternal.” The word “look” here is not a casual glance. It is the word you would use if you were to pick up a telescope and try to bring something far away into view and into focus. It is a word that suggests an intense examination, a constant scrutiny, a steady gaze. The statement carries a conditional force. The only way you will be able to endure if you keep focusing on invisible and eternal realities.
The distinction here is not between mature Christians and carnal Christians. It is between Christians and non-Christians. Unbelievers look to the things that are seen. But 2 Corinthians 5:7 says: “We walk by faith, not by sight.” What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
If you only look at
What you can see,
You will inevitably lose heart.
Strength to endure comes
To those who look
To the things that are unseen.
The Bible says in 1 Peter 1:8-9, “Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls.” In 1937, Walt Disney released the first full-length animated movie: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Disney artists drew over one million pictures for that film. Each picture flashed on screen for one-twenty-fourth of a second. Watching at regular speed, the movie-goer had no clue the work that went into it. Our lives are like that movie. The Lord has put infinite thought, skill, and attention into every detail of our lives. As life runs at regular speed, we cannot see it. But trust God is at work, and that causes us not to lose heart!
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”