2Co 4:17-18 “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Paul described in the first chapter of this epistle how they had been pressed out of measure to the point of despairing of life. He has spoken about bearing about in the mortal body the dying of Jesus. He has given voice to situations that many of us have never encountered; imprisonment, shipwreck, beating. Yet he speaks of a light (easy) affliction.
There have been times in our lives that we have been troubled and burdened. We have been concerned for family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, our churches and ourselves. We get tunnel vision and focus exclusively on the things that are troubling us until they become unbearable burdens. Sometimes they become so heavy we would rather die than try to go on living.
Paul is telling us here that to get absorbed in our afflictions is short-sighted. Compared to all the Lord has for us, the burdens we must bear along the way are easy. When we are focused on the things of God, we can bear our burdens with peace and contentment. They do not cease to be burdens, but they do cease to be unbearable burdens.
There is a reason for these light afflictions. They accomplish (work) for us a much greater thing than our affliction. These afflictions hone our trust in God and cause us to lean on His eternal things. That does not mean that we simply endure here until death releases us from this life. We receive a greater, eternal measure (weight) of the earnest of our inheritance.
The things that we bear work to draw us closer to our Lord and Savior. They teach us that the carnal man cannot be relied on. They bring about a shift in our trust from self to the eternal truth of God. Our attention is drawn to His faithfulness and saving grace, which we are recipients of here. If it is eternal, then it does wait to begin for us on the other side of the cemetery.
While we will not see the fullness of it as long as we are in these earthen vessels, our hearts understand that we are in possession of all eternity holds. We are in Christ, who has been restored to His glory. Our afflictions last but for a moment, which is something we realize more as we get older. We can see God’s delivering hand all along our short sojourn here.
When we look to the Lord for our help and strength, we are not looking at the things that are seen. We know from experience that everything in this life, including our time here, is temporary. Having our focus on God is to be focused on (looking at) the things that are not seen: our hope, our deliverance, our joy, our faith. These things are eternal because they come from the eternal Spirit of the eternal God.
May we lift up our eyes this day and view His glory!