David’s article talks about what we can and can’t know about the future – and one of the things we can know is that we will face suffering and death. Yet his article is hopeful because it says that in Jesus, we can know that God’s promises are true and our ultimate future is brighter than we can imagine. Then in our prayer prompters you also see requests for two of our younger staff and the enormous trials they are facing with cancer and Huntington’s disease.
We want to respond to the Bible’s urgings that we should rejoice always, be anxious for nothing, trust God for everything … but it’s so hard. It’s especially hard when we think of dark days facing those who are important to us.
Maybe it helps to remember that nobody can experience God’s grace for another person in that person’s time of need. We can (and hopefully will) become vessels of God’s grace to that person by caring and sharing the burden, but we don’t experience how His grace is lifting and supporting that person. There is a place of intimacy between God and those who are undergoing various trials. So our empathy for others can only go so far and if we are not careful, the burden we mean to help bear can be made heavier by our worries and fears. How can we make it lighter?
Think of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4, when he talks about the life-threatening situations he has faced on his missionary journeys. Then he says:
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)
We can never refer to someone else’s afflictions as light. It is only our own afflictions that we can describe that way … and we can only do so when we have the perspective that Paul had.
Imagine every affliction every pain and sorrow […] could somehow be weighed on a cosmic scale
Imagine if every affliction, every pain and sorrow you ever experienced throughout your entire life could somehow be weighed on a cosmic scale. However heavy it might be, at some point, there would be an end to the amount of suffering that is measured out. Now imagine trying to weigh the never-ending glory and joy that we’ve been promised for eternity. It is impossible because there will be no point in time at which we’ll cease to experience that glory and all the joy that goes with it. It is only in comparison with this unending, unmeasurable joy that our afflictions become “light.”
God is urging us to “look” for things that we can’t yet see – and He never asks us to do the impossible. Whether we are facing our own afflictions or praying for others as they face theirs, the real battle is to continue focusing our hearts on the promises of the One that our eyes cannot see … and to pray that those we love will do the same. Unimaginable victories will be ours – and theirs – when we do.