Yesterday I was the lay reader for our church, which means I got to read the first two scripture lessons for the day towards the beginning of the service. The second lesson for the day was 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:
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.
I love these verses because they put this life in perspective. Lately I have been feeling weighed down by my troubles, by changes in my life that I have no control over and expectations that are going to take a lot of energy for me to meet. But Paul tells us that, in view of the resurrection, these troubles are “light and momentary!” Even without the resurrection, the troubles that are before me are not that bad, not as bad as what many are facing.
The Gospel lesson at church yesterday (read by our pastor) portrayed a “trouble” that was much greater than what is before me. We heard the story of Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, found in John 11. Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, and yet when Jesus heard Lazarus was sick He did not immediately go to heal him. Instead, after Lazarus died, Jesus came to raise him from the dead so that the disciples would believe in a God for whom even death is a “light and momentary trouble.”
What is seen, including our troubles, are temporary. Things change. People come into our lives, and they leave just as quickly. Kids grow up. Pets get sick. Cars break down. Friends move away or just become too busy to keep in touch. We struggle with illness and death, financial reverses and financial gains, job changes, family relationships, and changes in the way we do church. All these things are temporary. To the extent they trouble us, those troubles are light and momentary.
But God, who is unseen, is eternal and unchanging. God was, is, and always will be a God of love and mercy, a God of justice and holiness, a God of grace and truth. For a short time this God was seen. As the Apostle John testified:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known. John 1:14, 16-18.
After Jesus made our Holy God known to us, He ascended into Heaven. Now He lives invisibly but powerfully in the hearts of those who put their trust in Him. His Spirit renews us day by day in the knowledge of Jesus’ death and resurrection for our sake. Because of this daily renewal, our troubles are light and momentary indeed!