Light and Momentary Afflictions
Sometimes we go through a series of "unfortunate events," as Harry Potter fans would call them, which seem to suck the wind right out of our sails and leave us almost dead in the water. Our beautiful day of smooth sailing suddenly darkens, and we notice ominous storm clouds all around us. The reality of our situation hits us hard: here we are - fools! - in the middle of the sea, without any land in sight, and completely at the mercy of the storm. What were we thinking? How on earth are we going to get out of this?
If you have been a believer for any length of time, this has happened to you, too. Just this morning I woke up to the alarming reality that I was quite literally adrift at sea, having cast myself out all wide-eyed and expectant on a gorgeous day, only to find that the weather had changed. Storms were gathering, and I was too far out to go back to land. The only thing left to do was to batten down the hatches and continue sailing.
We Christians are meant to be sailors, of course, to launch out into the depths of faith, trusting Jesus as our "skipper" to help us reach new places, wherever they may be. There is something in our hearts that longs for this adventure of faith, to cast all upon Him and experience the freedom of soaring, our sails full of the wind of the Spirit, our hearts full of hope. If God works everything together for our good, what could possibly go wrong? And so we launch.
But storms inevitably come, and it is the storms that make us true sailors.
Thankfully, this morning the Lord led me to 2 Corinthians 4:17, which reads: "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
Our "light affliction" is like a storm at sea. At first glance, it seems like only a demonic hindrance to keep us from reaching our destination. And the enemy does use storms to try to deter us.
Our trials do more than that, though. Look at 2 Corinthians again and you'll see that our afflictions are working for us! What are they working on? They're producing a glory so strong and powerful in our lives that the sheer magnitude of it will outweigh every trial we've ever had to go through! The glory of God in our lives is going to be so heavy that these current afflictions will seem "light" to us! Our momentary troubles can only vanish in the eternal radiance of the glory of God!
I'm preaching to myself here, but I believe that this is a word for you, too. We sometimes fail to see the point of our afflictions, and the old cliche that we're supposed to "learn something" from our trials just doesn't comfort anyone. Here's what does comfort me in the hard times: 2 Corinthians 4:15 confirms that "All things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God."
All things - including our trials - are divinely orchestrated to produce more of the glory of God in us. Look at what a sailor must do to stabilize himself in a storm. He throws out an anchor to create drag through the seas, to bring balance when the boat is rocked by waves. He dons his foul-weather gear for extra protection from the rain. In all but the worst storms, he doesn't change his course, but he slows his pace, perhaps, by lowering the sails. This allows him to concentrate on overcoming the weather's assaults on his craft.
The storms do teach us how to better handle ourselves and our commissions as we navigate life. But few sailors look forward to the storm, or delight in what it's "teaching them" at the time! Instead, they look forward to the "things which are not seen:" the land they will reach, the family they will return home to. In the same way, we look forward to the eternal things we are gaining, and we trust that the storm we see is only temporary (See 2 Corinthians 4:18). We delight in knowing that Jesus is our anchor, and that even in the storm, we are still held tightly in the palm of His hand.
Isaiah 32:17 says that the work of righteousness - or the fruitful work of Jesus in us - will be peace, quietness, and confidence forever. I am thankful today for the storm that drives this intrepid sailor to Him. I know that in this momentary affliction I will hold on more tightly and anchor myself more securely to the Lord. And by clinging to Jesus, my righteousness, I will soon receive the peace that He imparts to calm the sea.
If you're experiencing stormy seas, pray this with me today:
Hallelujah! I thank you, Lord, for the glory that I am gaining through these momentary afflictions! I believe Your glory is ever increasing in my life, transforming me into Your image (2 Corinthians 3:18). I believe even the storms in my life are subject to you, and designed to produce godly fruit in me. Show me what I need to do to anchor myself in You until this "weather" turns. And let my experiences transform the nations and result in abundant praise and thanksgiving to Your Holy Name! Amen.
c. Deborah Perkins, His Inscriptions
Deborah Perkins is passionate about helping others to connect with God. She writes about knowing God's Word and hearing His voice at His Inscriptions. To follow her weekly blog, subscribe here. Or to contact her directly, please click here.
Free Link to the Subscriber Resource Library when you join His Inscriptions!
A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.