No one is immune from the pain of this life. Of everyone born, all die! And along the way to glory, we face countless sources of sorrow and pain. But for every child born of grace, pain is to be kept in its proper perspective.
For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. (2 Corinthians 4:17)
Let me make something perfectly clear: Paul is not portraying pain as painless! Nor is he saying that pain is irrelevant, insignificant, or inconsequential, even when regarded in light of eternity. Paul’s goal, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is to provide every believer with the proper perspective for pain.
1st – SLIGHT
In light of what awaits the believer in glory, affliction and pain are to be considered slight. John Piper writes, “When Paul says his afflictions are light, he does not mean easy or painless. He means that compared to what is coming they are as nothing. Compared to the weight of glory coming, they are like feathers on the scale.” This in no way is meant to minimize the reality of suffering, pain, sorrow, and loss. It is intended to help the believer keep it in its proper perspective.
2nd – MOMENTARY
After the apostle Paul compares and contrasts our “slight” affliction against the “weight of glory,” he goes on to compare and contrast our “momentary” affliction against the “eternal weight of glory.” Paul is encouraging every believer to keep pain in its proper perspective. Whatever wave of challenge we are currently facing in this life is but a drop of water in the vast ocean of eternity.
3rd – PREPARATORY
Speaking from personal experience, it is hard to see pain as preparatory. When I find myself in the middle of some kind of pain, I find it hard to focus on anything past the pain! Is it not the same for you? That is why we need to keep the Gospel before us daily. Paul is telling us that our pain is preparing us for our promised reward.
Only the power of the Gospel can lift the believer to the place where pain, suffering, and loss can be received as slight, momentary, and preparatory. Whatever we are going through right now, we are going through it. We will get to the other side, and on that other side is something so incredible—so incomprehensible, our words can produce only a vague shadow of the supernatural substance we will one day walk into with the One who has prepared all of it for us. As Scripture reminds us, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV).
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!