“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
The apostle Paul was very familiar with suffering.
In fact, he wrote four New Testament letters from a prison cell. Paul suffered greatly during his lifetime, yet somehow he was able to point us to the hope and glory found in Jesus Christ. How in the world is that possible? It seems counter-intuitive that it was suffering that drove Paul to God. But, it was pain that allowed Paul to reach this conclusion:
Nothing in this world can take away what God has given.
You see, Paul understood that on his own he was far worse off than he ever dared to imagine. On his own, he had no hope of ever earning his way to God. He knew he could never DO enough to become GOOD enough. His only hope was found in the good and perfect work of Jesus Christ on his behalf.
Through Jesus, Paul discovered a lasting hope no matter the circumstances. You see, this hope wasn’t built on the things of this world; things that change, disappoint, and fade away. These things are here today and gone tomorrow. Paul’s hope was built on things unseen, things eternal. This is a hope that lasts.
Look at the world around you. The world is broken and crying out for hope. Every disaster and violent outburst reminds us of our need for redemption, for a Savior. Every headline highlights the devastating power of sin; explaining how a perfect, flawless world became broken. Paul understood that control and comfort are just temporary illusions. We can chase them, but eventually, they will slip through our fingers. Life will trip us up. Then what will you do?
When suffering hits, there’s one choice: run towards God or run away. Paul chose Christ, and he found hope.
What will you choose?
Adapted from a sermon by Senior Pastor, George Wright, Shades Mountain Baptist Church