For our light affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
Forty lashes. Beaten with rods. Stoned and left for dead. Shipwrecked three times. Floated in the sea for a day. Imprisoned. Constant danger. Suffering thirst and hunger.
These are the sufferings enumerated in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 that Paul personally experienced for the sake of the Gospel. How many of us can say that we have suffered even one of these difficulties?
In comparison, our sufferings are minor. We may be derided for our faith. We may be laughed at or dismissed. We may even lose a job or two. Under some circumstances we might be physically beaten. We suffer setbacks in our finances, relationships, and in our health, and these cause us great distress.
While our sufferings may not compare to Paul’s, nothing prevents us from having his attitude toward them. He described them as light momentary affliction.
If he can consider being stoned “light,” how should we look at times when we suffer persecution?
If he can consider being lashed and shipwrecked as “light,” how should we look at our own physical difficulties?
If he can consider nearly starving as “light,” how should we look at our financial difficulties?
Paul is not really attempting to diminish the difficulties involved with suffering: suffering poses great challenge and trial of our lives and of our faith. Yet, in comparison to the glory that awaits us from God, we can understand that we experience is very light.
Therefore, when we go through difficulties in our lives, let us be humbled by the sufferings that others have suffered for their faith, and have yet persevered. When we go through difficulties, let us be encouraged by recognizing that the glory of the resurrection and being with God and Christ will make our sufferings pale in comparison. The worse we suffer, the greater that day will seem!
Ethan R. Longhenry