For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,2 Corinthians 4:17(NASB)
None of us want to invite pain and suffering into our lives and Paul is an example of a man who went through much suffering in this world for being a Christian. At times he despaired even of life, and yet despite his terrible persecution and many imprisonments, Paul willingly endured his suffering with godly grace, patient endurance, and unspeakable joy.
Paul considered the sufferings he endured for Christ's sake as a light affliction, which would one day produce in him an exceedingly great and eternal weight of glory, in the ages to come. He did not enjoy his suffering at all, but he knew that the pathway of affliction was the same route that the Lord Jesus Christ had to take on our behalf, when He set his face like a flint towards Jerusalem and walked to the Cross.
Paul was simply following in the path of his Master because he knew that Jesus suffered and died for our sake, so that by faith in Him we could be redeemed from the sentence of death... a death-sentence that is over every sinful man.
He knew that as Christ’s disciples we are to follow the same path of humility and humiliation that Jesus took, but he also knew that the sufferings of this age... by comparison with our eternal future, are very small and will soon pass. "This momentary, light affliction," he wrote, "is producing for us an eternal weight of glory, which is beyond measure and surpassing all comparisons. It is a transcendent splendour and endless blessedness."
Paul knew that the afflictions of this age are preparing us for a glorious future that has no limits - and it will remain ours into the eternity of eternities. If we had to endure unimaginable trials every day of our earthy life, for Christ's sake, it would pale into insignificance, by comparison with the glory that God has prepared for those that love Him.
As God's children, we have been promised that His grace is sufficient to deal with every eventuality we may meet in life. We need never endure our affliction alone, for He has promised to be with us, and God is faithful, Who will not allow any of us to be tried beyond what we can bear. There is no affliction that we have to face alone, for He has promised to provide us with the sufficient strength we need to endure it - no wonder Paul describes life's mounting difficulties as a momentary, light affliction.
Before the Crown, comes the Cross and Jesus was ready and willing to endure the Cross and despise the shame, for the joy that was set before Him, and the Bible makes it very clear that when the people of God suffer with Christ, we will also share in His glory. Scripture makes it clear that the suffering servant of Christ brings honour to His name.
There were times when Paul longed to be away from this world, for to be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord. And yet this was the simple secret that Paul openly shared in many of his writings – that the evils of this life will one day be lifted like a silken shroud, which will quickly pass away like the melting mist of the dawn, which evaporates into the first golden rays of the early morning sunlight.
However great and burdensome the afflictions of this life may prove to be, the magnificent rewards of the eternal glories that are ours by faith in the Lord Jesus, are by comparison very small, very insignificant, fleeting, and momentary.
It is by bearing the cross for the Lord Jesus through the threads of time that a glorious crown is woven into the master-tapestry of our future, in the eternity of eternities. The coming glory that awaits us, far outweighs any afflictions we suffer today. It is by enduring the sorrows of the night for the sake of Christ, that bright morning joy will explode into everlasting glory.
Let us keep our eyes on Jesus and watch for that blessed hope and His any day return.
Praise Your Holy Name O Lord my God, for the glory without limit that awaits all who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour. May I face the afflictions and difficulties that are inevitable in this world system, with the same eternal perspective, godly grace, patient endurance, and unspeakable joy, that I see in Paul. Help me not to look at the circumstances of life with dread and fear, but rather, may I view them as part of the eternal tapestry of my life that You are weaving together for good. I look forward with joy to the limitless glories that You have prepared for those that love You, no matter what difficulties and dangers I may be called upon to face in this world. In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN.