Today Holy Spirit is stirring this Scripture in my heart again. Last week we talked about how “light and momentary” is God’s eternal perspective of our current troubles. It’s the most accurate perspective because He can see the whole span of forever. What you and I are going through right now is the briefest blip on the “timeline” of eternity (for lack of a better word, since eternity is beyond time).
As God teaches us to soar with Him on eagles’ wings, He breathes His eternal perspective into our hearts. We begin to see Reality through His eyes. From up high with Him, the things below do begin to look much smaller.
This is what Paul was experiencing as he penned these words under the inspiration of Holy Spirit. As a result of enduring so many trials, he was coming through the fire beautifully purified. He was beginning to experience an intimacy with God that took his breath away. We catch the tiniest glimpse of this in the same book, eight chapters later. He describes his stunning experiences in the third person, desiring to remain humble about them: “A man… was seized by Christ and swept in ecstasy to the heights of heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2, MSG).
We find out in verse 7 that he was actually talking about himself, as he switches to the first person. When I read about his experience, what longing stirs in my spirit! He also recounts to us:
Hold on though. Let’s contemplate for a moment the horrendous suffering that this man had also endured. It was horrendous from a human perspective – but Paul called it light and momentary! (You can find a list of everything he went through here.) I see a direct connection between all of his pain, and all of his intimacy with God. Even besides his ecstatic experiences of Paradise, his daily life looks to have become an ongoing experience of God’s breathtaking closeness. And this intimacy spoke to his spirit of the even far greater wonders to come.
So, returning to our original verse today. Holy Spirit bore witness with Paul’s spirit that what he was suffering was miniscule compared to the indescribable good it was working for him. The overwhelming intimacy he was already experiencing was but a foretaste of the glories to come. The word choice “far outweighs them all” was no hyperbole. It was no exaggeration for the sake of effect. It was raw, unadulterated truth. What was coming was going to make the present pain look like nearly nothing.
This is for you and me, today. I know it hurts. Jesus knows it hurts. He is Emmanuel, with us in the middle of the hurt. But He also whispers comfortingly to our hearts, “This is almost over. The night is nearly gone. I promise… it will be incomparably worth it all.”
Is this perspective of our sufferings within reach for us ordinary people? Is it possible for “everyday Christians” to see our troubles as light and momentary?