For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
2 Corinthians 4:17
This past weekend was so amazing - I got to see one of my most beloved brothers in Christ for the first time in almost 10 (!!!) years! He wept and cried out to the Lord on my behalf as I shared my ongoing struggles with chronic pain, and I lifted up my friend and his wife as they face a lifetime of dealing with a very difficult situation, one they didn’t think was possible.
About 5 years ago my friends adopted two young boys from a foreign country; the doctor who accompanied them to the orphanage did thorough exams of both children and said they both had no developmental issues. When they brought the boys home they assumed the extreme behavioral issues they were experiencing were simply due to trauma they experienced in the orphanage and the upheaval from being adopted. As the years passed it began to dawn on my friends that perhaps something more serious was going on, and thorough exams from three separate specialists all confirmed the same diagnosis - brain damage due to fetal alcohol syndrome. My friends’ wife, who deals with migraine headaches herself, assumed she’d stay home for a few years with the boys and then go back to work, but now they realize that isn’t going to happen.
My own struggles are different from those of my friends, but they often lead me to the same place of desperation - God, I’m not equipped to handle this; please, please help me!!! At this very moment sharp needles of pain are running up my feet and legs into my back. Being just 46 years old and having already lived like this for nearly a decade, I have to be honest and say there are times when I’m not exactly enthusiastic for what’s to come. Our lives may be momentary blips like “the flowers of the field,” but boy - when you’re suffering and dealing with chronic hardships it sure feels like forever!
Joni Eareckson Tada knows all about suffering that doesn’t seem to end. Her devotional for today is titled “Momentary Troubles,” and in it she explains the important role our trials and tribulations play in how we experience joy in this life. Suffering and joy? “How can those two words be associated?” you may ask. Joni points us to 2 Corinthians 4:17, where Paul says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” The struggles are temporary, but the good they produce - if we trust God with them - is forever!
About the “eternal glory” Joni offers this insight:
I believe this to be literally true. Since it is actually our troubles that produce the glory, then the greater the afflictions suffered, the greater the glory these troubles create for us! The only catch is that we must trust God through it all. We must trust Him when life becomes terribly, even unbearably difficult. As we do, our very real hardships feel lighter and lighter—almost “momentary,” as Scripture says. There is, for certain, a greater glory awaiting on our horizon.
Trials help us turn to God in our weakness. The more we turn to God, the greater the opportunity to experience his love, mercy, and provision. As we experience more of his love, mercy, and provision, the lighter our problems seem to be in light of eternity. No one wants to go through hard times, much less struggles that seemingly have no light at the end of the tunnel - and yet it’s these very things that draw us closer to Jesus!
Do the hardships of life feel overwhelming? Let Jesus carry the burden and turn them into “momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”