Our Light Afflictions Work For Us, Not Against Us
by Tom Stewart
March 24, 2002
"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of Glory"
At times, even the world tells us to speak positively about what
may be very brutal or grim circumstances. "For
after that in the Wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God
by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe"
(1Corinthians 1:21). Recently, I heard a secular author say
that it has been cause-and-effect demonstrated that often the best thing to say to
sufferers is that the worse is over. "A
word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver" (Proverbs
25:11). We may immediately think of instances when such brave talk
presages imminent death or destruction, e.g., a nurse in a field hospital on a battlefield,
who is overwhelmed with casualties, rating the wounded soldiers' priority for treatment,
as well as survivability, may comfort their mental anguish, knowing full well that
their efforts will be better expended with someone else, whose physical anguish can
be assuaged with timely treatment. "To
the one we are the savour of death unto Death; and to the other the savour of life
unto Life. And who is sufficient for these things?" (2Corinthians
2:16). But, only the True Christian understands the life-begetting
nature of the confident speech that is based upon the certainty of God's divinely
inspired, Infallible Word. "For the Word
of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even
to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is
a Discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart"
It is certain that only a sinner saved by the the "Grace of the LORD Jesus Christ" (Acts 15:11) can have the Eternal Optimism that "all things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28); and thereby, can claim alongside the Apostle Paul that "our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of Glory" (2Corinthians 4:17). Think of it. Inspiration has it that our afflictions work for us, not against us. To the world, this is strange metaphysics, but to the Godly, this is the Truth. "For My Thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My Ways, saith the LORD" (Isaiah 55:8). The world system in which we live is so different from the holy atmosphere of the Almighty that even Christians are prone to react with the world's amazement at the plain statements of Holy Writ, unless we allow ourselves to be governed by the "still small voice" (1Kings 19:12) of the Holy Spirit. "This is the Way, walk ye in it" (Isaiah 30:21). Does it not take faith to believe that our afflictions are light? But, lightness is a relative thing. Light compared to what? Alongside eternity, none of our afflictions can be so heavy. Even "our beloved brother Paul" (2Peter 3:15) must have considered his afflictions light. "23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness... 9 And He said unto me, My Grace is sufficient for thee: for My Strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the Power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong" (2Corinthians 11:23-27; 12:9-10).
The holy atmosphere of Heaven must be so different from the world in which our senses live that our preparation to experience those joys must require the utmost of God's effort-- and ours. "God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have Everlasting Life" (John 3:16). But, our New Birth is only the beginning of that preparation. We could not save ourselves. Neither can we sanctify ourselves. But, we do know Someone who is able "to subdue all things unto Himself" (Philippians 3:21). We must again cooperate in faith with new and renewed revelations of the fulness and sufficiency of the LORD Jesus Christ to meet not simply our physical needs, but our every spiritual need of preparation for the soon destination of Heaven. "But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19). We are prone to focus on the immediacy of our physical circumstances-- which cannot be helped-- but, we need to see beyond those necessities for our preparatory education to be complete. We need to see that Jesus has always been our Saviour, Friend, and Guide to supply the needed spiritual instruction through the Spirit of Christ to make our light afflictions, which are "but for a moment" (2Corinthians 4:17), to work for us a "far more exceeding and eternal weight of Glory" (4:17). If we would avail ourselves more of the advocacy of our Heavenly Paraklete, we would find ourselves living that phrase in the LORD's Prayer, "Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done in Earth, as it is in Heaven" (Matthew 6:10). Our personal preparation, as much as our soul-winning efforts to the Lost, may be the very thing needed to bring about the soon return of the LORD Jesus Christ-- and our departure! "Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the Day of God" (2Peter 3:12). [See our article, "Hastening the LORD's Return" ---New Window, for additional insight on the relationship of the Second Coming of Christ to our day-to-day walk of faith. Also, A. T. Pierson's "In Christ Jesus" ---New Window will give valuable instruction in how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in fashioning yourself in the pattern of Christ. If you are curious about the identity of the 19th century A. T. Pierson ---New Window, read "Meet Mr. Philadelphia" ---New Window.]
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