Tuesday, June 17, 2014

It's a Matter of Perspective: Looking Ahead

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV
"Takes a licking and keeps on ticking".  While this was originally an advertising slogan for Timex watches, it could well be used to describe Paul's life as an apostle.  Beaten repeatedly with rods and whips as well as being stoned.  Shipwrecked multiple times, experiencing hunger and cold as well as abuse at the hands of both Jews and Gentiles.  Experiencing lengthy prison times, mob violence, a corrupt judicial system and, ultimately, beheading.  Paul suffered for the gospel like few others.  Paul's use of "light and momentary troubles" to describe all that he went through seems to be a dramatic understatement.  There seems to have been nothing either light or momentary about most of it.  Was Paul just masochistic, or is something else going on here?

It seems that Paul had a different perspective on life than most of us manage to adopt.  He had his focus on the eternal, the future that awaited him once this life ends.  His vision of that future was real and something that he looked forward to.  And he realized that the glory of that future was far greater than the troubles of this life, even one with as much trouble as his.

I try to run quite a bit.  And the running can be hard.  But I do it to a large extent because it enables me to travel further and easier when out on the trail.  I know what the miles spent running will buy me later on.  Paul's attitude towards his suffering was similar.  He knew that his troubles were achieving for him an eternal glory, and so he endured, fixing his eyes on the eternal unseen world.

Lord, help me to have a vision of the eternal and to have that life fixed in mind as I travel through this world.  Not growing attached to the temporary possessions and pleasures here or being discouraged because of rejection or abuse because of your name.  Thank you for what you are doing and have prepared for me.

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