The suffering Christian!
(Francis Bourdillon, "Affliction, Light and Short!" 1864)
"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment — is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we do not look at the things which are seen — but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary — but the things which are not seen are eternal!" 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Few people will call their present affliction light — and few are disposed to call it short. For while it lasts, it seems hard to bear — and a time of suffering generally appears long. Yet the apostle Paul writes thus about his affliction: "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment."
Paul's afflictions were not, in themselves, light — few men have gone through more hardships and trials than he did. Nor were they, in themselves, short — for wherever he went he found them; they continued, more or less, to the end of his life.
It was only when he compared his present affliction with the glory that was so soon to follow — that it seemed to him light and short. Then he could say, "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment."
We must always try to look at our afflictions in this way. If we look at them alone — they will be enough to overwhelm us! But if we think also, and even more, of the eternal rest and happiness and glory which lie ahead of us — then our view of our present afflictions will be greatly changed.
"True," we shall feel, "true, my sorrows are many; my sickness is sore; my pain is great; long have I lain upon a bed of suffering. Yet before me lies a home of perfect rest, where pain and sickness and sorrow cannot come. My Savior has promised it to me and has gone before to prepare it for me. In a little while, I shall be there!"
With thoughts such as these, the suffering Christian should comfort himself — and thus weigh present affliction against future glory. For what are all things here below, but short? Joys and sorrows, health and sickness, affliction and prosperity — all the things that pain and that please, "the things which are seen" — all these things are but for a time.
Whereas "the things which are not seen are eternal." What we hope for, what Christ has purchased for us and gone before to prepare for us — that is forever! Our pains and sorrows will soon end — but our pleasures will never end! Our affliction is but for a little while — but our comforts, our Savior's presence, our Heavenly home, will be ours always!
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away — yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day!" 2 Corinthians 4:16