Light Momentary Affliction

December 07 2018
December 07 2018

Our journey through the Book of Job is raising important, sobering questions—for example, about a link between suffering and sin (do those who suffer “have it coming”?), about the type of safety God does and doesn’t promise us, and about whether our relationship with God boils down to a “contract” under which we claim a right to bounty and blessing (do we love God or just his gifts?).

And all such questions prompt us to examine our expectations.  For example, do we imagine that life as we know it will just go on and on and on?  Of course, if we’re asked, “Do you think you’ll never die?” we’d admit that our days are numbered.  But still, death can seem so remote, so abstract—and thus we carry on living as if everything we know and love today will always be the same.  Which means we impose expectations of heaven on this broken, fleeting world.

How much better it would be to re-align our expectations so that they include facing affliction here and now.  No, not to be morbid, but just to embrace biblical realism:  this side of heaven we all face suffering.  Jesus says, “In this world you will have tribulation…” (John 16:33).  “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23—cross-bearing means dying to sin and self).  “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).  So let’s face the facts:  trials come, and not just because we’re human, but because we follow Jesus Christ (see also 2 Tim 3:12).

And let’s also stoke our expectations of heaven.  Let your heart and mind run wild with this; it will be so awesome to be in the unveiled presence of the risen, reigning, glorified Christ!  In light of this future reality, remember what Paul said:  “For this light momentary afflic­tion is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor 4:17).  Yes, he called his horrendous suffering (see 11:23-29) “light” and “momentary.”  Paul also said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom 8:18).  Plus, compared to heaven’s everlasting wonders, all of our trials here and now only last “a little while” (1 Peter 1:6).  So in the dark valley today, fix your eyes on Jesus and set your hope in heaven!


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