Odd how life-altering changes can come so abruptly, with no warning. One moment, life is as it has always been, and the next, everything is forever changed. Trouble doesn’t take the time to call before ringing the doorbell.
I was blessed to spend some time with extended family yesterday. While visiting with my sweet sister-in-law and her husband, I heard an update on their friend Gerry who is suffering from ALS. There has not been much time between the initial shock of the diagnosis and the current new “normal” that can never seem normal of wheelchair confinement, a hospital bed at home, and having to be fed every bite of food he takes. Not much time, but surely many losses in that short period, with more on the horizon. No more golf, no more trips. No more of many things that were just a regular part of life, pre-ALS.
the surprisingly good news about trouble
I thought of Gerry this morning as I read 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” There’s a little mental game I play sometimes when I’m really struggling to be thankful. As silly as it sounds, the “what if” game has pulled me out of many a downward spiral by facilitating a desperately needed attitude adjustment. When our A/C was out for a week in the hottest month of the summer (and folks, we don’t live in Alaska), I asked myself, just for fun, “What if for every minute we have no A/C, $1000 was being added to our savings account?” I could imagine our excitement as we cheerfully mopped sweat and counted the seconds down together, “58…59…60!!!”
The really amazing thing is, according to 2 Corinthians 4:17, the “what if” game is a reality for those who know Christ. Picture a balance scale with me.
Now, on one side of the scale, load your troubles. You know what they are. Don’t be shy – load them all on…it’s a big scale. Sickness? Financial trouble? Relationships? Legal issues? Job? All there? Good.
Now, those “light and momentary troubles” (“easy for Paul to say”, we may be tempted to mutter bitterly) probably just made the empty side of the scale shoot upwards so fast its trajectory couldn’t be tracked by the naked eye, right? But hang on – the good part is coming.
While you are patiently enduring those troubles, they are actually working for you. They are performing an amazing, incredibly valuable function that is guaranteed to make you one day thrilled and grateful to have had every single one of them! They are “achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all”.
Now a supersized, overstuffed, overflowing bag of eternal glory comes slamming down on the empty side of the scale – BAM! It doesn’t just gently tip the scales in the other direction. No, it “far outweighs” the junk on the other side! In comparison, the troubles seem like nothing compared to the surpassing greatness of the reward.
Why does this matter? What good is a huge load of eternal glory when it doesn’t make my current problems go away?
The answer to that is in the next verse.
“So we fix our eyes on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.“
So are you, my friend. Eternal, that is. And eternity is a heck of a lot longer than your life here on this tiny revolving ball of dirt and water we call Earth.
Sure, life here seems like forever. That’s why we have to “fix” our eyes on the eternal. Keep them there, and put blinders on if necessary! Our eternity is greatly impacted by our patient endurance here. Our moment-by-moment choices to honor God in the hard times matter more than we will ever know, this side of Heaven.
So what weighs more on the great balance scale of life? “Light and momentary troubles”, or the eternal glory gained by them? Don’t be fooled by the way things look now. What you gain FAR outweighs what you suffer, and THAT’S good news! It’s true for Gerry, and it’s true for you if Christ is the Lord of your life.
And if He isn’t, wouldn’t this be a great moment to change that?
With faith, hope, and love,