Today there is a strong emphasis in certain religious circles which insist that the follower of Christ should have a life which is one of unbroken joy, peace, prosperity and in general easy. Every day should be filled with miracles and constant supernatural manifestations of of God who delivers from disaster, disappointment, or any type of despair. And if one is struggling in any area of affliction, ( finances, relationships, health) it is because of their lack of faith in God. How can lacking in the believers life be explained? A few are healed but the multitudes are not. A few have miraculous answers to prayer for healing and prosperity, but many do not. Are all those in this category to give up and wallow in self pity and defeat? Are we to conclude that the large number who are not healed or delivered from poverty or some other lacking in life are only "second class children " in the Kingdom? Must the one who is not healed suffer with a sense of spiritual inferiority and doubt his amount of faith? Are they the children of God and does God have favorites? Or is it possible for the great majority who remain financially limited, physically afflicted, or any other lacking to make as great a contribution to the kingdom and bring as much joy to the heart of God and win as great an eternal reward as those who seem favored with supernatural deliverance here and now?
The answer to that question is YES. It is possible for the great majority of followers of Christ who seem to lack supernatural deliverance here and now to make a great (perhaps a greater) contribution to the Kingdom of God. Our God's ways are not man's ways. He is at WORK in the life of every one of His redeemed children. And He uses all types of things in our lives to fulfill that great work in our lives. Sometimes it involves what we would think were great additions of blessings. And often times He uses great subtractions of what we call lacking. It is very important for the follower of Christ not to become confused by thinking the blessings work good things and the lackings work bad things. This cannot be farther from the eternal truth. Both are used by our all knowing God in our lives. And depending on HIS WILL for each of His followers he determines the when and what He uses to accomplish His deep work in us.
Holy scripture declares, " For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" ( 2nd Corinthians 4:17-18). The plain teaching of this passage is that one's sorrows are actually working for the faithful believer is predicated upon the faith that the unseen is the ultimate and supreme reality and that the present and visible is only relative and short lived.
This passage in 2nd Corinthians 4 is so important to understand and the word "affliction" is necessary to define. In reality Paul was speaking about any lacking that comes to a believer's life. It includes persecutions, oppositions, deprivations, hardships in any and every area. Any thing causing pain or distress in the physical, mental, relational, spiritual arena's. It implies any sorrow, suffering or heartache imposed by illness, loss, misfortune, etc. This affliction can be disciplinary for the erring saint as well as testing for the obedient ones, ( 2nd Cor 12:7, 2nd Cor 11:23-33, Psalm 119:67,71, Job ).
Every affliction that God allows can be used of God to work a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory for the obedient and trusting child of God. If we accept this affliction , then the Lord is saying that the "pressure" from any cause, including bodily, mental, and emotional pain or suffering ( even if healing does not follow ), will work for us.
It is important for me to remind each of us that this is learned and will take time in our sanctification process. For one who is going through great pain today you will need to be patient with yourself as you LEARN this truth. God will work in you and bring you to this eternal truth, but it may mean you will have some difficult times before you finally find the peace in the truth. Also, for others who are who are walking through the pain of others it is important to understand those in pain need our patience in their "working out with God's working in". We must remember answers are always easier to give when you are not the one in the pain than to receive when you are in the affliction. Remember the book of Job!
2nd Corinthians 4:17-18 gives us an amazing truth which ultimately leads us to a very mature result. To know that God is working will mature the believer to trust God and embrace their affliction. When a believer who is suffering and has taken it to the Lord in prayer and is still experiencing lacking will find greater solace in trusting that the Lord is working a greater "eternal weight of glory". Therefore it should be cherished and not wasted by resistance and rebellion.
I must admit I have wasted much suffering and affliction in my times of misunderstanding, anger, self pity, lamenting, disappointment and depressions instead of seeking the method by which my suffering and sorrow could have been transformed into that " eternal weight of glory." Yet the great work of God inside me reminds me today that He permits sufferings to the saints only to work (create) for Him GLORY! No one ever becomes a saint without suffering because suffering, properly accepted, is the pathway to glory.
Terry has been the Senior Pastor of Liberty for 30 years. He and his wife, Karen, have 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 1 spoiled dog named Cooper.