Affliction and Suffering

“For all things are for your sakes, that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. II Corinthians 4:15
Everything the apostles were going through (afflicted, crushed, perplexed, persecuted, struck down, constantly being delivered over to death (verses 8-12)) was for the sake of believers. Everything we go through is for the sake of other believers. Because of what the apostles were going through, more and more people were experiencing grace-saving faith in Jesus Christ. As people watch what we go through and how we overcome (not crushed, not despairing, not forsaken, not destroyed) the life of Jesus manifested in our body and life in others (verses 8-12), our testimony encourages others to come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. A ripple effect brings more and more. We should celebrate every soul that is saved and we should especially give thanks to God for them. Our salvation thanksgiving causes the glory of God to abound. This is why the apostles were not discouraged (verse 16). They saw their afflictions as testimonies leading to more grace, leading to saved souls, leading to more thanksgiving, leading to more glory. Though outwardly they were wearing out, inwardly they were renewed (verse 16). They saw their suffering as light and temporary (verse 17). They didn’t look at the temporary but the eternal (verse 18).
“For we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” II Corinthians 4:16
Therefore – look at what came before. All suffering is for the sake of others – that they may see God’s grace at work in us and that God’s grace may begin to work in them, encouraging and leading to salvation. Suffering leads to thanksgiving which leads to more glory for God. Because of the grace, thanksgiving and glory (that’s a 3 to 1 ratio to suffering by the way) we do not lose heart. The grace of God, our thanksgiving and God’s glory renew our inner selves. It’s a daily process. Daily we must see our sufferings as helpful to others. Daily we must see our sufferings in the light of God’s grace. Daily we must sacrifice thanksgiving. Daily we must see God’s glory. Daily we must look past the outer man decay and see the inner self renewed and closer to God and His glory.
“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. (NASB) Our suffering is light and temporary and is producing for us an eternal glory that is greater than anything we can imagine.” (GWT) II Corinthians 4:17
Notice the structure here. Paul doesn’t say affliction is momentary and light – he uses momentary and light as adjectives to describe affliction. It has more impact that way and I think it can’t be disputed. Affliction/suffering, no matter what it is, no matter how long it lasts according to human timekeeping is momentary/temporary when compared to the length of eternity. Affliction/suffering, no matter what it is, no matter how heavy it feels right now, is light compared to the weight of glory we’ll have in heaven. Thinks it’s hard to stand up under the pain we feel now? Just try to stand up under the glory we’ll have in heaven! Of course, heavenly bodies are probably built for glory! Glory far beyond all comparison, greater than anything we can imagine. Affliction/suffering produces glory. The greater our affliction/suffering, the greater our glory will be. Therefore, the way through affliction/suffering is to look ahead and try to imagine the glory. If affliction/suffering and glory were placed on a balance scale, for once the disparity would be to our advantage!
“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 transparent, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” II Corinthians 4:18
(I wish I understood why the men who assigned chapter and verse numbers split sentences into two verses and in some verses have more than one sentence!)
“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison 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 transparent, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”   II Corinthians 4:17-18
There! That’s better!
Don’t look at the affliction/suffering. Look at the glory. Try to imagine that scale and see the balance arm moving the trays. Replace every thought of pain with as many thoughts of glory as it takes to tip that scale.
Whatever we can see is temporal (of or relating to time as opposed to eternity). Affliction/suffering is temporal. Material possessions are temporal. The things which are not seen are eternal. God, Jesus, Holy Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, meekness, self-control. These are eternal. Focus on them.

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