It’s not very often that I look up to someone else. Not that there aren’t people I have great respect and admiration for . . . but that there aren’t many that I physically have to look up to. At six-foot-three, even those who are taller than me, usually aren’t much taller than me . . . no strain on the neck to go eyeball to eyeball with them. But a couple of weeks ago I met a young man who I looked up to . . . looked WAY UP to . . . as in, fifteen inches taller than me . . . as in, if I didn’t look up, I’d be looking into his chest . . . as in, if we had talked too long I would have had a serious crick in my neck. Though I’m pretty tall, next to this guy I looked kind of small.
So, why do I go there? Why does that come to mind? Well, this morning I’m reading in 2Corinthians 4 where Paul talks about being afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down for the sake of the gospel. Paul said that he lived like one “always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake” (4:8-12). Sounds like a big deal. Sounds like quite the burden to bear. But Paul would refer to it as “light momentary affliction.” How could he say that? More importantly, how could he believe that? Because of what he held up beside his trials. The bigness of his sufferings was dwarfed when it stood up next to “an eternal weight of glory.”
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV)
Weight of glory . . . that’s what caught my eye this morning. That which we faithfully endure and suffer under is preparing for us a weight of glory beyond all comparison.
That word, “weight,” is used only a five other times in the New Testament. Once translated “demands” . . . the other four times translated “burden.” Literally it has the idea of a great weight . . . of a huge heaviness. I imagine it as a great sack that when, flung over the shoulder and carried, bows the back. But in this case, it is a great, heavy bag of treasure. It is a weight of glory. The glory being so great that it can make the weight of our afflictions seem light in comparison.
Place whatever you want up against the glory to be revealed, and it seems smaller . . . much smaller. Not that we minimize or trivialize our trials . . . Paul was very much afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down. But he was not crushed, driven to despair, forsaken, nor destroyed. Though he knew what it was to be near death often, he also knew what it was to be enveloped in the power of Christ’s resurrected life. Though he knew things could come to an end at any time, he knew that it would only be the beginning . . . “knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into His presence” (4:14).
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18 ESV)
What’s more, through the voice of the Spirit indwelling him, Paul also lived in the reality that his “light afflictions” were momentary . . . but that the great burden of glory he’d bear was eternal. The length of any season of suffering pales when compared to the season that awaits. For this season is transient . . . the next, eternal.
And so, says Paul, we do not lose heart.
Instead we are encouraged to look up . . . to look WAY UP . . . “setting our minds on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:2). There we see, with faith’s eye, the risen Christ, sitting at the right hand of God. And we believe, with abiding Spirit generated assurance, that one day we will appear with Him . . . in glory. And together we will “bear” an eternal weight of glory!
What a day that will be!