2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” NKJV
I have given this passage much thought many times and on one occasion while discussing it with some friends one said, “My afflictions are not light like Paul’s.” I thought, seriously? Do you realize how much the apostle was ‘underplaying’ what was happening and had happened to him? If you continue reading in 2 Corinthians to Chapter 11 beginning in verse 22 you find a stunning account or list of things he has endured, things he calls ‘light afflictions.’ Consider his list of how he has been imprisoned, labored, received stripes from flogging and faced death. Listen to his detail:
- FIVE TIMES he received 39 stripes the maximum allowable by Jewish law.
- THREE TIMES he was beaten with rods.
- THREE TIMES he was stoned and I don’t mean drugs but rocks hurled at him.
- SHIPWRECKED spending a day and night in the deep.
- THE INVENTORY of serious issues he faced including dangerous journeys, perils in water, from robbers, danger from countrymen, Gentiles, in the cities he ministered, in water he traveled, wilderness, the sea dangers, and those of false brethren. In weariness he labored, in sleeplessness and hunger, being cold and improperly clothed or provisioned.
Yet in all that his major concern was the health and safety of the churches never focusing on his problems or circumstance! He faced multiple death threats, was physically abused, lacked proper food and clothing and in all that he declared that he had learned to be ‘content’ in whatever state he found himself. Why? He had an incredible unshakable confidence in God being and doing what God had promised and just being God. He reached the point that he had to decide whether he would live or die and while longing for his heavenly reward he saw the need as more pressing and choose to live, minister, suffer bringing hope to the hopeless and life to the lifeless. Yet, he calls all this ‘light afflictions’. I am shamed by this because there have been times when I faced a financial crisis I ‘complained’ to the Lord. I faced an issue with family being falsely accused and even wept before God feeling sorry for myself saying, ‘God what is going on. I would not treat my children this way.’ This was nothing more than a ‘pity-party’ in which I was not just questioning God but accusing Him of being lesser of a father than I. He let me live in that squalor for a few days then arrested my heart and I wept bitterly for days repenting and was reminded of Paul’s sufferings and how he handled it. From that time to this I have found that my choice is to see the good in my situation and see how God is working all things together for my good so I can be encouraged and encourage others to ‘stand fast’ in the faith and rejoice in Him.
Light affliction? I met with some wounded warriors and while I had whined about my hip and back I observed them learning to use new prosthesis as their prosthetic limbs were fitted. Some were learning to walk, use robotic hands and manipulate a motorized wheelchair due to being quad or paraplegic. In that moment my shame was enormous, my cry of repentance deep and genuine and I shook myself, rose from there with a heart of thanksgiving for what I had. I am blessed and I know I am. I have a few aches and pains that go along with aging and years of abuse of my body but my mind is strong, my faith is solid, and my confidence is God is ever reaching toward the throne. My afflictions are ‘light’ especially in comparison to the apostle Paul and many of our wounded warriors. God is working in my life and these light afflictions are teaching me dependence upon the Lord. I am not promoting difficulties I am promoting the God who overcomes them and cause us to triumph in Jesus.
Be thankful for that you have and rejoice considering this a light affliction and minor in light of what God is doing in us. We are more than conquerors through Jesus. So may God guard, guide, and grace you as you go through your day. Blessings!