AFFLICTION AND GLORY

                                                            by

                                                    Arthur Pink

 

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us

a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”  (2 Corinthians 4:17).

 

These words supply us with a reason why we should not faint under trials

nor be overwhelmed by misfortunes. They teach us to look at the trials of

time in the light of eternity. They affirm that the present buffetings of the

Christian exercise a beneficent effect on the inner man. If these truths were

firmly grasped by faith they would mitigate much of the bitterness of our

sorrows. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for

us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” This verse sets forth

a striking and glorious antithesis, as it contrasts our future state with our

present. Here there is “affliction,” there “glory.” Here there is a “light

affliction,” there a “might of glory.” In our affliction there is both levity and

brevity; it is a light affliction, and it is but for a moment; in our future glory

there is solidity and eternity! To discover the preciousness of this contrast

let us consider, separately, each member, but in the inverse order of

mention.

 

1. “A far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” It is a significant

thing that the Hebrew word for “glory,” kabod, also means “weight.”

When weight is added to the value of gold or precious stones this increases

their worth. Heaven’s happiness cannot be told out in the words of earth;

figurative expressions are best calculated to convey some imperfect views

to us. Here in our text one term is piled up on top of another. That which

awaits the believer is “glory,” and when we say that a thing is glorious we

have reached the limits of human language to express that which is

excellent and perfect. But the “glory” awaiting us is weighted, yea it is “far

more exceeding” weighty than anything terrestrial and temporal; its value

defies computation; its transcendent excellency is beyond verbal

description. Moreover, this wondrous glory awaiting us is not evanescent

and temporal, but Divine and eternal; for “eternal” it could not be unless it

were Divine. The great and blessed God is going to give us that which is

worthy of Himself, yea that which is like Himself, infinite and everlasting.

 

2. “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment.”

 

ü      “Affliction” is the common lot of human existence; “Man is born

            unto trouble as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). This is part of the

            entail of sin. It is not meet that a fallen creature should be perfectly

            happy in his sins. Nor are the children of God exempted; “Through

            much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).

            By a hard and rugged road does God lead us to glory and immortality.

 

ü      Our affliction is “light.” Afflictions are not light in themselves for oft

            times they are heavy and grievous; but they are light comparatively!

            They are light when compared with what we really deserve. They are

            light when compared with the sufferings of the Lord Jesus. But perhaps

            their real lightness is best seen by comparing them with the weight of

            glory which is awaiting us. As said the same apostle in another place,

            “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy

            to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us”

            (Romans 8:18).

 

ü      “Which is but for a moment”. Should our afflictions continue

            throughout a whole lifetime, and that life be equal in duration to

            Methuselah’s, yet is it momentary if compared with the eternity which

            is before us. At most our affliction is but for this present life, which is

            as a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. (James

            4:14)  O that God would enable us to examine our trials in their true

            perspective.

 

ü      Note now the connection between the two. Our light affliction, which is

            but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal

            weight of glory.” The present is influencing the future. It is not for us to

            reason and philosophize about this, but to take God at His Word and believe

            it.  Experience, feelings, observation of others, may seem to deny this fact. Oft

            times afflictions appear only to sour us and make us more rebellious and

            discontented. But let it be remembered that afflictions are not sent by God

            for the purpose of purifying the flesh: they are designed for the benefit of

            the “new man.” Moreover, afflictions help to prepare us for the glory

            hereafter. Affliction draws away our heart from the love of the world; it

            makes us long more for the time when we shall be translated from this

            scene of sin and sorrow; it will enable us to appreciate (by way of contrast)

            the things which God had prepared for them that love Him.

            Here then is what faith is invited to do: to place in one scale the present

            affliction, in the other, the eternal glory. Are they worthy to be compared?

            No, indeed. One second of glory will more than counterbalance a whole

            lifetime of suffering. What are years of toil, of sickness, of battling against

            poverty, of persecution, yea, of a martyr’s death, when weighed over

            against the pleasures at God’s right hand, which are for evermore! One

            breath of Paradise will extinguish all the adverse winds of earth. One day in

            the Father’s House will more than counterbalance the years we have spent

            in this dreary wilderness. May God grant unto us that faith which will

            enable us to anticipatively lay hold of the future and live in the present

            enjoyment of it.

 

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