Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Light and Momentary

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, ESV).

"Light and momentary," Paul? Really? These trials surely don't feel light and momentary. They feel heavy enough to knock me flat on the floor if I dare to try to rise beneath their weight. Perhaps you don't understand? Perhaps you only know paper-cut and head-cold kinds of suffering?

On the contrary, elsewhere in this same letter, Paul describes his share of "light and momentary affliction" since his Damascus-road conversion:
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead (2 Cor. 1:8-9, ESV).

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake... (2 Cor. 4:8-11a, ESV).

Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 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.  Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands (2 Cor. 11:23-33, ESV).
OK, so I was wrong. You do know whereof you write. So what am I to make of this "light and momentary" talk?  "For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison...." Can it be that even the severest earthly sufferings (and I know mine don't qualify in the least!), when seen through Glory's lenses, will be even as the grain of sand, irritating the oyster now but later producing the glorious weight of a pearl? Are these present trials the very seeds of a weighty, beautiful eternal glory I can't even fathom?

Oh, how I need the eyes you look through in this letter, eyes like night vision goggles able to see truth in dark places. How may I learn to fix my gaze on unseen eternal wonders when the seen, the affliction, the wasting away of the outer self honestly does make a person's heart faint. And now I'm not talking back to you, Paul, but up to our shared Lord.

Give me eyes to see the treasures of darkness, Father. Strengthen my heart to bear all that you grant. Do, in Your mercy, renew my inner self day by day. Fix my eyes on You who alone do not change or fail. I thank You, Lord, for You are good. Your steadfast love endures forever, through Jesus my Savior. Amen.

Thank You, Lord, for your gifts this past week:
for Your steadfast love
for "eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison"
for Mom's surgery success
for an excellent post-op report from her surgeon

for excellent sleep the night before my procedure
that it's over now
for no trouble getting to the surgery center at 6:10 am
for the doctor's satisfaction with how it went
for an unexpected increase of pain being "completely normal"

for a better pain day most of Sunday
for church
and a movie date
for a recliner to sleep in when a newish shoulder injury wakes me up in the night
for audio Bible and Bible teaching podcasts

for almost 3 inches of rain in the last week
for a new bath cabinet greatly tidying and organizing a small space
for a delicious meal from my sister Thursday night
for a Memorial Day steak dinner at my parents'

for loose ends tied up on that second sock
for finishing one book and one audiobook
for another audiobook half an hour from completion

(from the gratitude list, #435-456)


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