Reading: 2 Corinthians 1-4
When Paul writes his second letter to the Corinthians, the resurrection theme we saw in the first letter appears again. The apostle gently reminds his readers that someday they, like him, will be presented before God. Those who accept the message of reconciliation because of their labor of love will bring great glory to God on that day… “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For the light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes no on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NIV).
Paul has described some of what he has gone through as a messenger of the Gospel (4:8-11). He had been beaten, left for dead, shipwrecked, persecuted, imprisoned, misrepresented, hungry, cold, and frustrated by a physical limitation that held him back. Characterizing what he had gone through during the course of his ministry as “light” boggles the mind.
But perspective is everything. In this last statement he refers to the physical limitations, and contrasts them with the spiritual resources that he has. Paul recognizes that when his focus is on temporary, the “momentary” he could easily get discouraged and want to give up. When he turns his eyes toward heaven and realizes the eternal value of all that he has to deal with temporarily, his whole mindset changes.
It’s easy for me to focus on the challenges and frustrations of life and ministry. It’s easy to be reminded how much my hips, knees and hands hurt because the outward is showing the wear and tear of age. Focusing on those things takes me on a road that leads nowhere good. But remembering that what I do, what I am, what I give of eternal value to the work that God has called me to do, and the spiritual resources that God has promised, changes how I think, how I feel, and how I react.
Paul will go on in chapter 5 to discuss the frailty of “the earthly tent” a little more fully (5:1-10), ending again with the reminder that our focus needs to be on the eternal rather than the temporal. That perspective makes all the difference.