One morning last week I heard a knock on our front door. On opening it there stood a friend who had not visited us for many years. He was passing on his way to do some work nearby. Moments after he came in to the house he said he had a scripture for me. He then read this verse –
“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 (NKJV)
Little did he know that the self same verses had been on my mind for some weeks – I had even started to write on them for a blog post – but eventually changed my mind.
My friend, along with many other Christians I know have, over the last few years, been on a journey that has involved much pain, misunderstanding, rejection and disappointment in their relationship to church.
I suspect all of us are guilty of our focus being the seen and material world in which we live. In truth, for most of us, unseen things are relegated to the irrelevant. This is as true in the “church” world as anywhere else. Unless we see results, unless we see success [what ever that looks like], unless we see the seats filling up, unless our names are highlighted, unless our ministry and gifts are recognised – then we think we have failed. We strive for the visible and tangible. And yet the Bible here teaches that it is – “the things which are not seen [that] are eternal“.
Not only are the things which are unseen eternal – but, they are also working for us! That is very hard to believe sometimes! The trial, the suffering, the devastation of rejection by friends and fellow believers, the injustice of seeing a ministry destroyed through the jealousy and wilfulness of others, accusation of uselessness – and the list goes on and on. How can these things be working for us?
In the context Paul recognises the real danger of our loosing heart and encourages us –
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.”
2 Corinthians 4: 15
There it is again – the unseen – the “inward man”. So much more could be said – but in essence I believe it is as we allow our pain and suffering to be submitted to and anointed by the grace, healing and balm of the Holy Spirit – that we are renewed on a daily basis. I saw it in the face and through the tears of my friend as he read the verse to me last week. And for him it wasn’t a theory – he was and is living it. But I also saw in him something of the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory“. It shone from his face – a little glimpse of the unseen breaking though to my visible morning. Thank you for your visit my brother!