Momentary, Light Affliction

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh…Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 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. For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-5:4 (selections)

The last few weeks have been an intense purging of my heart. God has been showing me my weaknesses, my disappointments, my hopes, my idols, and my needs. There are times when I wish that I never signed up for this intensity of following Christ, and there are times when I celebrate the painful purging and rejoice at the fruit of his love, for me and for others. This morning I was pretty discouraged, and this verse came to me: “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” The pain that I feel, the hopelessness of my broken self, is eclipsed in the glory of God. The glory that I can’t see yet, but I will see it.

We do groan. It’s painful to live on earth. People disappoint us, darkness still tempts us, sickness darkens our door, and all we can do is groan, lament, and cry out to the God who can save us. We don’t want to be clothed in these earthen vessels. We want to be clothed in the righteousness of Christ, righteousness that has purged all of our disoriented desires, our sin, and our pain. We are burdened by pain. We are burdened by life. We want our mortal body to be swallowed up by life, eternal life.

For today, I find comfort in these verses. Tomorrow I may be once again singing my lament. But I’m learning to trust the one who knows the song. He’s not afraid of key changes, minor keys, repeats, and ritardandos. He is teaching me this beautiful song, but to be honest, sometimes I hate the song he’s teaching me. It doesn’t sound beautiful, and it’s stretching and challenging to my limited ability. But one day, I will know the song to sing with the masses in heaven, and it will sound beautiful in the chorus of redeemed creation. I may not understand it right now, but one day I will. One day, I will.

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