Truth for Triumphing over Trouble #5
The final truth for triumphing over trouble is implied in Job, but it shines brightest in the broad daylight of NT revelation. So we’ll end in the NT. The passage I have in mind is 2 Corinthians 4.
Paul writes in 4:8-9,
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed . . . .
Paul’s not talking theoretically here. His is the voice of painful, personal experience. He knew what it felt like to be pressured, puzzled, pursued, and knocked down. What truth sustained him in the midst of all these kinds of troubles? What was it that kept him from feeling distressed, despairing, deserted, destroyed? He explains it this way. We know that death is no end, and that God who raised up Christ will also raise up us (4:14);
therefore, we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is working for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison because we are focusing not on the things that are seen but at the things that are not seen. For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are not seen are eternal (4:16-18).
Truth #5: Compared to my future, my present suffering, however severe, is light, and however long, is momentary; because this life is only the front porch of eternity.
How serious are we, really, about what Scripture says when it comes to evaluating our 20, 40, 60, even 80 years … in the light of forever? This is not just Paul’s perspective on hissuffering, it is God’s perspective on your suffering and my suffering. God wants us to be persuaded that his perspective is the right one, the real one.
Sanctification is all about learning to think like God again. He first formed us to think like him, but because of sin and the Fall, we don’t. That happens only as we let his description of reality shape our thinking. And it may as well start here in this passage.
We become so obsessed with this life. “My happiness, my comfort, my relationships, my goals, my stuff—all this is so important to me because,” we think, though we know better than to say it, “this life is all I have.” That’s pagan.
But our fallenness runs deep. So we grasp at the fraying threads of a fleeting life as though this is what’s real. It is real, but it’s not all; and it’s not nearly so real as what’s to come. Five years on a sickbed, ten years working two jobs to stay afloat, twenty years after the loss of a child, forty years in a less than ideal marriage may seem like an intolerably long time; but it’s just a few grains of sand on all the shores of all the oceans combined.
By the grace of God, I can put up with anything in the providence of God for a “moment.” Can’t I?
Or are Paul’s words just spiritual exaggeration? A sanctified lie designed to cheer us up artificially and to distract us from the “real” world? You have to decide that.
Five truths for triumphing over trouble:
- What we see is not all there is; God is doing a lot of things we know nothing about.
- God has the right to remove whatever He has graciously given in the first place.
- It is unreasonable to expect only unmixed good from God.
- I do not need to know why things happen; I only need to know who governs my life and submit to whatever he chooses to do, believing that he is not only sovereign and right, but good.
- Compared to my future, my present suffering, however severe, is light, and however long, is momentary; because this life is only the front porch of eternity.
God means for you not merely to survive your suffering, but to triumph in it and over it — with Him. Because no one has suffered more than he has, for you.