As I searched through my bible I turned to Paul’s exhortations as he addressed the church in the city of Corinth. In Paul’s time, the city of Corinth was almost a mirror for what our society is today. Corinth was a mostly secular culture that prized money, sex and immorality of nearly every kind. In the midst of that debauchery and Godlessness Paul was trying his best to urge new Christians in fledgling churches to stay away from the troubles of the day. He understood that most people then, like most of us today – were anxious about their place in the world. They worried about being swallowed up by the world around them as they pursued careers, raised their children, navigated a tough economy, endured ridicule by non-believers, persecution by the government and even as they attempted to determine truth from corrupt preachers.
In 2nd Corinthians, the 4th chapter Paul beautifully expresses exactly how Christians then and today should adopt a Kingdom perspective – to view all of their troubles and worries from an eternal viewpoint that would best serve God, thus best serving every Christian. In 2nd Corinthians 4:7 -9 Paul tells us, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. Does that not perfectly address exactly how many of us view our lives today? Then, in verses 4:16 – 18, he goes on to say, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light affliction, which is but for a moment, is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
WOW!!! Paul plainly tells us that our afflictions are fleeting and temporal – they are unimportant except to prepare us to live in glory with Christ! This is one of the reasons that Paul also exhorts us to welcome all such trials with joy (James 1: 2 – 4) – because they are intended for us to glorify Christ. Jesus assures us that there will indeed be trouble in this life but in almost the same breath He commands us to be joyful as He is with us through it all (John 16:33).
Yes, it can be difficult to welcome the pain of this life with joy – but with a true Kingdom perspective we can glimpse the light of God’s glory through even our darkest moments. It is that light which allows us to find a way to lasting joy.