That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:16 NLT)
My father will turn 90 this summer. Based on the history of his family he was sure he wouldn’t live much past 70. I sure am glad that both my Dad and Mom are still alive. I am most grateful for their example of continuing ministry. They have both been through numerous physical struggles over the past year. Their bodies are getting weaker and that could be discouraging, but their confidence in God and in eternity are exactly what Paul is describing here.
I love this quote even though it doesn’t really match the original source.
“From the perspective of heaven, the most difficult life on earth is nothing more than one night in a bad motel.” — Saint Teresa of Avila (Tim Keller sermon, “Power for Facing Trouble”)
It captures what I think Paul is trying to communicate to us as his readers. I spent much of my working life as a manager of a support department. What we provided to the business was not essential to making the product. We were optional, so I spent much time each year creating some form of cost-benefit analysis to justify our existence. I wish I could have come up with an analysis as strong as Paul’s. Paul has no doubt that our eternal reward will far outweigh whatever we endure here on earth. Later in this same letter he will describe God’s gift to us as indescribable (2 Corinthians 9:15).
Paul doesn’t speak of believing in the resurrection. He knows that he will be raised with Christ. He knows that the Corinthians he is writing to will be raised. He is so confident that he wants as many people as possible to rise with him, thanksgiving overflowing, and God’s glory being unmistakable. I think this is the reason that Paul chooses to go to places and do things that result in suffering. He is totally confident that whatever he encounters on earth is temporary and completely overwhelmed by the promises of eternity.
What would your day look like today if you fixed your eyes on what is unseen?
To my grandchildren:
When you get hurt today, especially if you think you don’t deserve the hurt, think about spending forever with God in a place where there are no more hurts.