The Weight Of Glory
(I begin this piece with a disclaimer. I do not count myself personally qualified to comment on suffering. In comparison with many others I know, and have known, graduate level students in the school of trouble and sorrow, I am but a preschooler. Please keep that truth in mind and have patience with me as you read on.—dwo)
It is terribly easy to be dismissive of the suffering of others. Some of us tend to see it as “much ado about little or nothing.” I once heard this definition of “minor” surgery…minor surgery is what other people have. But if it is a surgery that “I” am going to have…well…that’s a different matter entirely. I remember, years ago, hearing folks speak of a condition called “gout.” I confess that I didn’t give it much thought, nor did I offer them any consideration that could truly be called empathy. But all that ended several years ago when I, personally, began to have gout. Now I better appreciate what those folks were dealing with.
It is also terribly easy to speak unhelpful things…and, sometimes, wrong things, to those going through the wringer of life. Even the tossing out of a passage of Scripture without context or thought can be damaging. But even though all of the above is true, the Apostle Paul still said this, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).” AND he said this, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all (2 Corinthians 4:17).” Who is this who has the gall to refer to our troubles as light and momentary? He must be an upstart who has no real life experience…right?! Wrong! Like his Lord, Paul was acquainted with grief. His long list of the credentials of his apostleship, given in 2 Corinthians 11:23ff, includes frequent unjust imprisonments, at least eight public beatings (five floggings and three canings), three shipwrecks, a “thorn in the flesh” which hindered him physically (though it was used of God to bless him spiritually), and life lived with a familiar but unfriendly companion known as the danger of death. Paul bore on his body the scars of devotion to Jesus Christ. It was this man…this sufferer who left pints of his blood in many population centers where he traveled to make the Name of Jesus Christ known…this man said that “our” troubles are light and momentary and not worthy to be compared with the weight of coming glory. Surely he had earned the right to speak. But don’t misunderstand, Paul didn’t enjoy suffering. He begged God to remove that thorn in his flesh. Neither was Paul dismissive of suffering or sufferers. So how could he call suffering light and momentary? He looked at it in the light of eternity. He didn’t diminish suffering and trials; instead he accurately assessed the coming weight of glory to be revealed in us. He said that glory not only outweighs the troubles, but that it far outweighs them. Take heart then, Christian, especially when you feel the pressure. Your Lord brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. Can you feel its weight?