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When trouble brings glory

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

 “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding {and} eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.”

In context, Paul was speaking here of life on earth with all of its pitfalls, dangers, pain, and trouble. He referred to all of this as “light affliction.” To begin with, no-one in their right mind would call that glory. However, if we really examine the above verses, we can see exactly when it can become glory. Notice verse 18 which has included in it, the word “while.” Paul says that our light affliction works for us a “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory while …” While what? While we do not look at the things which are seen but only at the things which are unseen. This means that the only time our light affliction here on this earth will build for us a “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” is during the time that we do not look at the things which we see but at the things which we don’t see. The things which we don’t see are implied in the next verse to be spiritual truths of God’s word. In other words, light affliction will only bring glory when we keep our attention on the promises of God and not what is going on in our lives. The Word teaches us that to be established, every word needs two or three witnesses therefore, this notion is further verified by James 1:2-4:

            “My brethren count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

and Romans 8:28:

    “ And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to {His} purpose."

    In the passage from James, the only time that trials work for good is if you let patience work…. not if you lose your God given mind! As well, in the Romans verse, the only time all things work together for good is if you love God. Now most people state emphatically that they do love God, but most people do not realize what that means exactly. Jesus said in John 14:15: "If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Therefore to “Love” the Father is not simply emotional - it is responsive action. When we love God, we do what He tells us, and we do not do what He tells us not to do! 

This simple idea, that is expressed in three different ways in these three passages is this: We as humans still living on earth in fallible bodies experience any number of traumas. These things happen to the saved and the unsaved, but no-one likes experiencing them. Because God knows this and He loves us, He has provided a very practical method for turning every bad thing that ever happens to us into growth, wisdom, maturity, and blessing. He doesn’t bring these things on us and He doesn’t even want us to go through them. But He does want us to learn from them. therefore, the only way we can learn from them, we can gain wisdom and we can escape them is by keeping our attention focused on what He says to us and responding in kind until we are through the situation. 

    Think of it with this picture: Assume that you are trapped in a burning building on a high floor. The building next door is not on fire and your only method of escape is through the window, across a steel beam, and into the safe, unharmed building next door. You approach the window full of fear, dread, trepidation. You see a fireman in the window of the next-door building, and he is instructing you to step out onto the beam that is 400 feet in the air and joining the two buildings. You do not have much time because the fire in your building is coming closer and closer and will take the room you are in and the steel beam of escape. The fireman did not cause the fire in order to teach you how to walk across steel beams like a trapeze artist! He is there to help you, but you have to listen to his instruction, or you will die. You step out onto the beam and you do not look back because if you do, you will lose your balance and plummet to the ground below. So you keep your eyes fixed on the fireman in the safe window while you listen to him coaching you how to walk safely across this very scary precipice to the unharmed building. Although you would love to run across the beam to safety, you realize that you are unable to do that for obvious reasons. So, you are forced to be careful, deliberate, and determined in your journey from death to life. All the time the fireman’s voice calls to you, instructing you, encouraging you…At last, you make it to the safety of the building next door and into the waiting arms of the fireman whom you credit with saving your life while you watch the building you just came from crumble in flames and the steel beam tumble 400 feet to the ground below! This is precisely the image that God wants us to have when we think in terms of these three verses….. Life and all of its inherit dangerous can only work out for our glory and benefit if we listen to the voice of the living God as the fireman in this story!

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