Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
This passage just blows me away. 2 Corinthians was written by the apostle Paul. Paul, who was given the forty lashes minus one 5 times, (2 Corinithians 11:24-25) beaten with rods three times, (2 Corinithians 11:24-25) imprisoned on multiple occasions (Acts 16:16-38, etc.) stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19-20)and eventually murdered for his faith in Jesus.
Paul, who went from being a wealthy zealous Jewish leader to an impoverished Christian missionary without a salary or pension. Paul suffered all of these things and yet calls his poverty, severe beatings, multiple unfair imprisonments and hard work “light and momentary troubles.”
So often in my life, I experience one or two things a day that don’t go my way: I am awakened in the night by a crying baby who won’t go back to sleep; I have to wait a week to purchase a certain item for myself because we are living “paycheck to paycheck”; we lose a motion at work …. and these troubles seem exceedingly important, weighty and permanent.
Yet, compared to the troubles Paul faced, my troubles shouldn’t even be defined as troubles. They are annoyances, not troubles.
But, instead of getting down on myself for getting wrapped around the axle about these things, I wonder what it was, how it was that Paul would define his troubles as “light and momentary” because, certainly from the time he was converted to the time he was eventually martyred he experienced issues like I chronicle above.
So, what was it? How can he, almost casually call his troubles light and momentary? His focus. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
This is so much of the time my problem. I get focused on me. Now. What I want. How I think things should go. Today. I get wrapped around the axle about goals I’ve set for things on this earth in this life and I can’t handle someone, something, or just “life” getting in the way of my program.
I am so selfish that I get blown away by a couple of adjectives Paul uses to describe the hardships he faces in this life. I think these verses are pretty clear that I need to get my focus off myself and on Jesus. His plan for this or that. Eternity. What these things are going to matter in the real long run.
So, the here and now, the working to “get ahead,” have a little something for myself? That’s temporary. The giving a little of my time, money, and energy to God? That’s eternal. God will take care of the rest. (Matthew 6:26-34).
But, can I be honest? I have a really really hard time with this concept. More often than not, I choose me, here and now over the eternal. Obviously. That’s why Paul’s description of his hardships blows me away.
So … not that you have to air your own foibles here … but, maybe this verse is challenging you to think about whether you need to change your focus, too. How would you describe your “troubles”? Light and momentary or weighty and long-lasting? Is your description of your troubles an accurate one?