2Co 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
2Co 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
2Co 4:18 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.
Despised, rejected by his old friends and peers, viewed suspiciously by The Church, beaten, ship-wrecked, snake-bit, robbed, continually traveling from place to place with no home, often ill, Paul considered himself a man of 'light' affliction. His assessment was due to his frame of reference. He weighed adversity against glory and came to the conclusion that affliction was light compared to glory.
The word translated 'exceeding' is actually more of a phrase than a word in the original Greek. It is a pile-up of four words each one meaning 'more, beyond, over, extra, etc.' while 'light' is one word that means 'light in weight, quick'. Affliction is seen as light and temporary while glory is seen as heavy and eternal.
The concept conveyed is that whatever we face circumstantially in life, the glory of God is greater, bigger, heavier, longer lasting and ultimately more real. You hear people often use a similar coping mechanism without the spiritual insight. When facing a bad situation a comparison will be made to something perceived to off-set the negative; "well, at least we have our health..." We are able to handle the reversal equipped with the knowledge that we have something else that is ok and stable. The limitation is that often we possess nothing that is of equal or greater value than the severity of the situation. In Paul's case, whatever he faced, and he faced far more than most of us ever will, he perceived it as being inconsequential in comparison to the overwhelming glory of God.
To the early Christians, glory was not an abstract theological concept; it was an experiential reality. They saw His glory, were touched by His glory and were transformed by His glory. They lived and walked in His glory. Equipped with this knowledge they were enabled to face difficulties with the understanding that the goodness of God out weighed any evil they encountered.
In the early Christian world-view, there was no need to 'stress to possess' because they were already in possession of the most valuable commodity available--the glory of the Lord. Whatever negative circumstance they found themselves in was not merely tolerable and survivable, it actually became an opportunity for victory because of the overarching glory.
Phi 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
Phi 4:12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
Phi 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
In order to live with the same sense of contentment today, we must possess what they possessed. The experiential reality of the glory of the Father revealed in the face of Jesus Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit is just as available and necessary in the twenty first century as it was in the first century. The resulting transformation equips us with the understanding of what truly is significant and lasting compared with the temporary.
This holiday season one of my best friends was afflicted with a sudden medical emergency. A blood vessel burst in his brain. When his wife called me and told me of his condition I immediately went online to find out how serious it was. I was stunned. The article I read said that 45% of the cases resulted in death within 24 hours and another 25% died within two days. Of those that survived, most were left with stroke-like disabilities requiring extensive therapies. She told me that he was in a comma and would not wake up for several days. I immediately called those that I knew would pray and then I went to see my friend.
It was eight in the morning when I first received the report and it was about three in the afternoon before I arrived at the hospital. The word the Lord had given me as I prayed over the situation was ‘authority’. Jesus gave us all authority over sickness and demons, so I went armed with the peace of having heard a clear word to exercise His authority. While I was at peace, I was in no way prepared for what I saw when I walked into the ICU unit at the hospital.
My friend opened his eyes look straight at me and said, “LARRY TAYLOR!” He was awake, alert and joking. He had complete movement in all his limbs and no apparent brain damage from the burst vessel. I was flabbergasted. His wife said he had awakened and the doctor said he had never seen a case like this and that it was in his words, ‘abnormal’. After a week in ICU, my friend is scheduled to be at home for New Years Day. Certainly, it would have been preferable to him not to go through this trial. However, the pain is overshadowed by the miracle working power of Jesus to overcome the situation.
I was visiting my friend a few days later after the painkillers and other drugs were beginning to wear off and he was adamant about sharing with me his newfound perspective. There are only a few things in life that are really important, and one overshadows all others—the reality of Jesus.