I was chatting with my friend the other day, and realized how little we think about the fact that this life is just a breath in comparison to eternity set before us.
There are so many people who have a hard time wrapping their heads around the thought of a God that would allow all of this sin and destruction in the world. The understanding of a God that would allow this suffering to continue does not make sense to them alongside the character of a loving and gracious God.
God, in creating us, knew there would be a need to save us from our own actions. God created the world without sin, without destruction or decay. The entrance of sin corrupted everything. But God was prepared with the plan of Jesus, so that man could choose to experience life as God intended, free from sin and destruction. God came to experience the pain of this life, so that we, having chosen sin, might have eternity as he intended and created it.
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
We get to experience life to the fullest, eternally, with just a moment of suffering. This is the gracious plan of God from the beginning. When we lose sight of eternity, suffering loses meaning and becomes heavier. It engulfs us and steals our hope.
How are we to endure suffering if we see no end to it? If we only see life in this world, why would we not just live our best life here? These questions drive us when our eyes are not set on eternity. We live for this life by the standards set in this world. It may not be intentional, but the world’s message will be the one we focus on and follow.
Throughout the New Testament (and across the globe today) we see stories of believers persecuted, tortured and put to death for their faith. An interesting aspect to Paul’s letters is he doesn’t ask God to deliver him or other Christians from this torment, but rather strength to endure it.
The suffering of the believer gives testimony to their faith in Jesus. This holds true across beliefs. Beliefs are exposed in hard times and only that which is worth clinging to withstands the pressure. It gives testimony to what is important to that person. For a follower of Jesus, what is important is only that which is given by Christ himself. Discovering this comes through turning your eyes on Jesus rather than the things of this world.
This life we are living matters not because it is our only one, but it is where life eternal begins. We should not be setting ourselves up for life here, but for living with Christ eternally. These two options are drastically different. The things that matter in the kingdom of God are very different from what matters here. We will not be bringing with us any of our stuff, our jobs, or even our relationships as they currently exist.
Knowing what is important for eternity is important. Knowing God is important! Becoming like God is as well. So is bringing people along with us to life with Christ.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
We should not expect this world and life focused on the eternal to share the same values, motivation or pursuits. In fact, because this world has been corrupted by sin, we should expect they will be at odds. We will see those who know life eternal persecuted. But do not lose heart. The greatest of hardships can not compare to the future glory. The way of this world has no glory to look forward to. This is the best it gets.
Setting our eyes on what is unseen and eternal allows us to take heart in persecution and when looking at the pain surrounding us. Eternity brings hope. Endless days free of this pain are ahead for those who choose it in this life. No suffering should tempt us to give that up for this short time on earth. The more we know God, the more we have to hope for.
So where are your eyes focused? Is it on the future glory, or the glory this world has to offer? Is your focus status, power or wealth? Or is it on the riches or eternity with Christ? What does your decision making process reveal? What does your bank account reveal? What does your calendar reveal? Take heart. There is eternal sharing in the inheritance of Christ to look forward to.