The suffering Christian!
(Francis Bourdillon, “Affliction, Light and Short!” 1864)
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment–is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we do not look at the things which are seen–but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary–but the things which are not seen are eternal!” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Few people will call their present affliction light–and few are disposed to call it short. For while it lasts, it seems hard to bear–and a time of suffering generally appears long. Yet the apostle Paul writes thus about his affliction: “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment.”
Paul’s afflictions were not, in themselves, light–few men have gone through more hardships and trials than he did. Nor were they, in themselves, short–for wherever he went he found them; they continued, more or less, to the end of his life.
It was only when he compared his present affliction with the glory that was so soon to follow–that it seemed to him light and short. Then he could say, “Our light affliction, which is but for amoment.”
We must always try to look at our afflictions in this way. If we look at them alone–they will be enough to overwhelm us! But if we think also, and even more, of the eternal rest and happiness andglory which lie ahead of us–then our view of our present afflictions will be greatly changed.
“True,” we shall feel, “true, my sorrows are many; my sickness is sore; my pain is great; long have I lain upon a bed of suffering. Yet before me lies a home of perfect rest, where pain and sickness and sorrow cannot come. My Savior has promised it to me and has gone before to prepare it for me. In a little while, I shall be there!”
With thoughts such as these, the suffering Christian should comfort himself–and thus weigh present affliction against future glory. For what are all things here below, but short? Joys and sorrows, health and sickness, affliction and prosperity–all the things that pain and that please, “the things which are seen”–all these things are but for a time.
Whereas “the things which are not seen are eternal.” What we hope for, what Christ has purchased for us and gone before to prepare for us–that is forever! Our pains and sorrows will soon end–but our pleasures will never end! Our affliction is but for a little while–but our comforts, our Savior’s presence, our Heavenly home, will be ours always!
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away–yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day!” 2 Corinthians 4:16
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