We’ve talked a lot about what can be gained from this trial and the value, the necessity, of not wasting it. My biggest fear for you is probably that you will just wait it out, grin and bear it, and when it’s over you’ll look back on it as a nearly meaningless time of torture. My friend, I have to tell you, for the Christian, that just cannot be so.
The verse I probably cling to the most in this, deep to my core, is Paul’s words to Christians in trial like 2,000 years ago. They are 100% true today, and they are spoken to you. They are your hope, and the reason you must refuse not to waste these days, months and years of pain, waiting, loss, and fear.
2 Corinthians 4:17
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
Oh, thank God! There IS a point to it all: to work in me things of value more important than any troubles, and thank God that this is definitely light and momentary. Oh, thank God! If you don’t memorize any other verse, please memorize that one and repeat it to yourself a hundred times a day if you have to. There is a point to this whole thing, and you better not let yourself miss it!
The whole passage is just as awesome and encouraging. Print it out, put it where you’ll see it, and read it as much as you need.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 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.
Several weeks ago I posted a song called Though You Slay Me, and the version features a powerful quote by Pastor John Piper on suffering and the temptation to feel that it’s meaningless. It’s based on this passage. Here’s the whole thing…
“Not only is all your affliction momentary, not only is all your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there. But all of it is totally meaningful. Every millisecond of your pain, from the fallen nature or fallen man, every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that.
I don’t care if it was cancer or criticism. I don’t care if it was slander or sickness. It wasn’t meaningless. It’s doing something! It’s not meaningless. Of course you can’t see what it’s doing. Don’t look to what is seen.
When your mom dies, when your kid dies, when you’ve got cancer at 40, when a car careens into the sidewalk and takes her out, don’t say, “That’s meaningless!” It’s not. It’s working for you an eternal weight of glory.
Therefore, therefore, do not lose heart. But take these truths and day by day focus on them. Preach them to yourself every morning. Get alone with God and preach his word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for.”
Again, I just have to thank God for this truth. This is not meaningless. Paul tells other brethren […] the same hopeful message in Romans 5:3-5…
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
James said virtually the same thing in chapter 1, verses 2-4:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
I recently wrote a post about how suffering is useful for gaining wisdom. There are so many other character traits, qualities and benefits to be gained, by choice, in this time. Will you please comment and share one thing your suffering has already produced or is producing in you?