“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory…” 2 Corinthians 4:17
Yesterday I experienced some bittersweet moments after receiving a call which informed me that my adopted sister had passed away. For the past three weeks she had been battling congestive heart failure, but that battle was just a small tip of the iceberg of affliction she endured during her short 19 years on this earth. You see my sister was born with a condition called anencephaly (for her entire life she was only able to draw from the functional resources in her brain stem because she was born without a brain). Doctors usually give these children only hours to live, but my sister proved them wrong. And not only wrong in living as long as she did, but also in showing that she could think, feel, and communicate. Her affliction here on earth and the death of her physical body, those were the events which made the news yesterday bitter to swallow.
Yet, sweet thoughts counteracted the bitter because I know my sister’s life was not a waste. She lived a simple life but in that life she influenced many of the people who cared for her and who knew her. At her funeral next week, I already anticipate the celebration which will occur. In the many conversations which happen that day, stories will be shared and much hope to endure affliction in this world will be given through them. Thoughts and feelings about eternity and the truth it all holds for each of us in the future will be brought to the forefront of everyone’s minds. And together we will all anticipate the day when we will all come together, not hindered by sin and pain but rather, able to worship God with unconstrained praise.
We can complain about a lot of things which in our lives inhibit us from experiencing the joys we desire. However, when we look at the lives of those who have been dealt a very short hand on this earth and how God loves each of those individuals as equally as us, it seems to be God’s way of shouting out to the world “Why are you wasting your time trying to find your joy here?” Romans 8:18 holds a good reminder in line with that thought and should be something for us to ponder when our thinking starts to go astray regarding the suffering and affliction this world brings. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
It is to the future, our eternal future in Christ Jesus, where we must all put our hope if we are to endure what this world requires of us. I want to end with this little visual. Think of the promises of the New Jerusalem and all that a future with Jesus contains as the ultimate travel brochure. And, just like when you are planning a vacation and some of the things you need to do to prepare for your trip are cumbersome, so are some of the things you are required to do on this earth as you prepare for your final destination of heaven cumbersome. When those times are tough to endure, take out your travel brochure and dream of the place you are headed – it will give you the hope and endurance needed to keep going. (Just a side note: If you are having trouble with the contents of that travel brochure I would highly suggest the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn. It is a tough read, but filled with so much scripture regarding heaven. Even if it takes you years to finish the book I promise you will not regret the time you took to dig through his research on heaven and what it holds for those who put their trust in Jesus as Lord.)