Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
You will recall that we are in a unit that began in 2:14 and which continues through 7:4 in which Paul is defending his apostolic ministry, and in a subsection that began at 4:1 and continues through 5:10 dealing with his perseverance through his own shortcomings. Of course, all of this derives from the opposition to Paul’s ministry that cropped up in Corinth at some point after his first letter. We now enter the final phase of this subsection, with Paul’s conclusions drawn from the previous verses, and amplified in 5:1-10.
Naturally, we know for certain that we have arrived at his conclusion because of the word “therefore” in 4:16. In these three verses he ties his previous comments together into a conclusion that essentially says that the glory to come outweighs any hardship in this life.
Yes, Paul has his problems. Yes, he is sometimes persecuted, he has known his share of danger, and he has made some mistakes along the way. People accuse him unfairly, he is sometimes insulted, humiliated or cursed, but he continues to be faithful to his calling because he knows that in spite of any affliction in this life, which is itself temporary, his future in Christ is beyond bright, and God provides him with everything he needs inwardly to stay the course in this life.
I must confess to you that I am not an apostle and I’m sure you aren’t either. Yet we all have a calling from the Lord Jesus Christ to build His Kingdom, to share the gospel and to help others along the way. All of us know that we have the same Spirit within us that Paul had within him and thus, what Paul has declared in these three verses applies just as much to each one of us as it did to Paul. We also know that the strength God provided Paul was more than enough to keep him going until his last day on earth, and consequently, we also know that God will do the same for us if we are determined to remain faithful.
So, the only question left for us is whether or not we will determine to remain faithful to our callings.
I don’t know about anyone else, but as I think about that, at first it seems a little daunting to me because I’m never terribly comfortable having to depend on someone else, even God. Yet, I also know that in every case that I have placed my trust in Him, He hasn’t let me down. When I come to this point, I begin to realize that these are three of the most empowering and liberating verses in all of Scripture: How about you?