Rev Moss

The difficult things we experience in life can seem like such a waste of time. For instance, in the case of a relationship breakdown, we envision a better life without it, yearning for all the possibilities that could arise if that relationship was thriving. If the difficult thing is an illness or disease, we imagine how rich life would be without it. We despise the presence of these things and desire their removal from our lives so that we can move forward. These difficult and painful experiences enter our lives like a thief, stealing our happiness and pleasure.

However, these statements would hold true only if we were confined to this present world. In his letter to the Corinthian Church, Paul enlightens us to a broader reality of our existence and introduces the idea that God operates in ways that may be hard to understand. He reminds us that pain and suffering do not rob us but, rather, can lead to something far greater than fleeting happiness. He suggests that there could even be a purpose to our suffering. Paul writes the following in 2 Corinthians, Chapter 4:

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Paul reframes our thinking about the difficult things we face in life. He tells us that no matter how big and overwhelming our present situation is, all the hardship will seem like “light and momentary troubles” in glorious eternity. It is hard to imagine, but it is a wonderful hope if it is true. Paul proposes that our hardships are achieving “eternal glory”. It is hard to know exactly what Paul means by this phrase, but it must mean that our present “wasting away” will produce something glorious for us in eternity. This suggests that suffering is not a thief, but rather, in some manner, a gift.

As a father, my mind is drawn back to the twelve boys who were trapped in a cave in Thailand. The boys’ parents would have had serious concerns for the lives of their sons, and some may have given up hope. The traumatic experience of loss and fear would have enabled them to experience the relationship with their sons in a far richer, more meaningful and glorious way. They would experience their children in ways they never could have without the grief and fear entering their lives.

I do not know what hard things you are facing right now, but I do know that it is not wasted. Through it, you will experience the richness of God and the treasure of eternity in ways that you would never have without these experiences. God promises that He will be at work giving generously even if you think that you have been robbed. God is at work achieving eternal glory for you and this far outweighs all you are battling. The presence of pain in our lives is not an indication that God has abandoned us but, rather, a reminder that He is diligently working for our glory.