It’s often hard to see the good in the midst of hardship. When a child receives a diagnosis of cancer or a long-time employee is laid off before Christmas or a college student fails a required course in the semester before graduation or the girl says no to the marriage proposal or the friend betrays a confidence, it’s hard to think that God is — or even could be — working good things.
Yet Paul affirms that not only is God doing good things in every circumstance for those who love God (Rom. 8:28-29), but that the trials we endure are also momentary and light (2 Cor. 4:14-16). Momentary? A six-year battle against cancer? Light? Loss of a job and house with no marketable skills and being at an “unemployable” age?
When Paul says these things are light and momentary, he is not minimizing the reality of the burdens; in fact in other places he would say they are toil and laborious (e.g., 1 Cor. 15:58). Rather, he is enjoining the reader to consider the trial and contrast it with what he knows is coming. Burdens are only light when they are viewed in light of the gifts of God in eternity.
To gain that view, the final two chapters of the New Testament are particularly helpful. Consider all that is promised for the believer in Revelation 21:
- “I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband” (v. 2).
- “The tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them” (v. 3).
- “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (v. 4).
- “He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” (v. 5).
- “I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My so” (v. 6).
- “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, ‘Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb’” (v. 9).
- “And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it” (vv. 23–24).
- “And nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (v. 27).
As you come to the end of the year, are you discouraged by your circumstances? It may not be possible to change your situation, but it is possible to renew your mind by contemplating the greatness of Christ and His eternal provision for you.