Perspectives on Suffering

2 Corinthians 4:17 “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”

Suffering and afflictions are a part of life, every life.  In the words above, Paul calls these afflictions “light and momentary.”  This from one who later in this same letter to the church at Corinth described the afflictions that he had endured to that point in time with these words: “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea;on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:24-28).  Paul was to later die as a martyr by beheading.  And all of this came on him simply because he followed Christ in sharing the gospel far and wide. 

The sufferings of the believer are like this – for no matter how severe, in time they will end, and when we compare them from the eternal glory of heaven, they will seem as nothing.  As one of the hymns says “It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus.”  Peter speaks the same way with these words “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:6-7). 

From the perspective of heaven, we are taught that life on earth will seem as “just a vapor, that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14).  For someone going through trials right now, this may not seem like much comfort.  Suffering is difficult, and it can seem like it will never end.  But it is trust in the Words of God to us about suffering that we can find the strength to endure anything for the sake of the kingdom. The knowledge of the Word of God on suffering should have an enormous effect on our perspective and attitude as we endure suffering. 

Conversely, the suffering on earth of the unbeliever will likewise pale in comparison with what that person will experience in eternity but in a wholly different way, for in eternity, the unbeliever’s suffering will dwarf as insignificant any suffering he or she had endured on earth.  This is the warning of Scripture to us all and it is belief in the Word of God on this matter that will make all the difference in the end. 

So, what about you?  Are you suffering and enduring trials at the present time?  If so, are you willing to put your trust in Christ in spite of it?  He will see you through if you love Him.  If He is your Shepherd, even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you need fear no evil, for he is with you (Psalm 23).  And though you may be dealing with troubles now, “surely goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life and you shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” 

Forever is a long time compared to the time of our life on this earth.  How would you like to spend your forever?

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