Affliction. This is light? a study of Glory in 2 cor 4:17-18

Affliction. Troubles. Times, when as the Message says, ‘things are falling apart on us.’ And God’s true Word says these moments are light.
As in light in weight, a burden easy to bear. Cancer, light? Wayward children, light? This back pain, light? I’m in debt, light? Without a job, light? Divorced, light? None of this feels, light. Suffering presses body and soul down into the dust with its weight and it is hardly ever ‘momentary’. This trouble started months or years ago and its peculiar nature could continue to remain for the rest of life. I don’t call that momentary.

But neither our foreboding nor our feelings on suffering can be taken as proofs of how a matter really stands. We must receive the Spirit of Truth’s testimony not our fallible feelings or false fears. If you answered the call of grace and know Christ as your savior then you, child of God, are called to carry on these light and momentary afflictions so that these troubles can do their work.

Neither our foreboding or feelings can be taken as proofs of reality- We must receive & believe the Spirit of Truth’s testimony in the Word. Tweet: Neither our foreboding or feelings can be taken as proofs of reality- We must receive & believe the Spirit of Truth’s testimony in the Word.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 2 Cor 4:17(KJV) Link to this another working verse, the ever faithful promise found in Romans 8:28 in all things God works together with those who love him to bring about what is good.

These light in weight and easy to bear troubles come in two varieties: temporal and spiritual.

Temporal afflictions that people are subject to by reason of the fall are universal and come as bodily afflictions, family sorrows, and providential trials.  Summing it up so we don’t rabbit trail, here are some principles:

  • Health troubles prove out a sanctified illness is far better than an unsanctified health.
  • Earthly happiness is much derived from family but too often we set up these ‘family idols’ as our household gods and they usurp the place of God and chain us down too closely to earth.
  • There is a poverty found in riches and a richness found in poverty.

Spiritual afflictions are unique to the children of God. What is loss of health, family, friends, job, property … to the hidings of God’s face, to guilt of conscience, to the smell of death on an unbeliever, to the anticipation of the coming day of wrath? What are the temporary afflictions you suffer compared to the frown of your Beloved savior, the pruning of his sheers, the touch of His weighty hand?

How can these be light when we feel them so heavy?

Holy Spirit makes no mistakes. He describes things as they really are in God’s sight so they must be lined up in our sight. Let us confess we are wrong. Again. In how we feel about things. Now let us return to God and see if Spirit can come along side to help us see truth and believe it.

Compare and contrast is a good place to start to understand something. And we are in the process of changing how we think about Affliction so let’s go deeper.

If Glory is heavy, affliction is called light. 2 cor 4:17-18  Tweet: If Glory is heavy, affliction is called light. 2cor4:17

Weigh your blessings against your afflictions. First look at your stewardship compared to your blessings. Your ROI (return on investment) to Christ’s sacrificial love and abundant blessings. You’ve been given every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Eph 1) Every. Spiritual. Blessing. And if you can’t fill a book with your gratitude for these then you need to stop now and take up Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are and be given sight. You’re blind my friend to the work of God.

Put blessings into one scale and all your afflictions, both temporal and spiritual, into the other. Are your afflictions heavy now? Compare your light and temporary troubles to the eternal torments of those damned in hell. Compare your sufferings with the Lord Jesus Christ’s passion week. Have you drank the dregs of the cup of God’s wrath? Do we really suffer with a little body pain, a child afflicted, not quite so much money, a marriage more a trial than a comfort and think to compare our afflictions with the Man of Sorrow?

And if the light of these is ever so heavy, Spirit still says it is ‘but for a moment’.

There is an expiration date on our suffering marked momentary.

What is time compared to eternity? A grain of sand to the beach, one star to the galaxy, a drop compared to the ocean. They are insufficient to even compare. Time and eternity can never be compared together. Today cannot stand against all the past and every tomorrow.

Think about this. What if all of Job’s suffering were yours. If all of Paul’s, Jonah’s, David’s, Leah & Rachel’s, the ancient martyrs, all of these put upon your head to live out. When death came and your soul was transformed to eternity, what would they be? Only a moment.

If we let undisciplined minds run amuck and imagine the absolute worst, we forebode joy. Only one Man ever took on all the suffering upon His head. This Jesus will never lay upon His own more than they can bear. “He knows are frame, He remembers that we are dust.” Go to an Ash Wednesday service this lent and experience the reminder of who we are in His sight.


But we are also bruised reeds He will never break and smoking flax He will never quench. And chosen people He calls his friends that He knows so personally the intensity and duration of every suffering is shifted through his scarred hands. Under the heaviest afflictions, the Lord grants the greatest support and in the deepest sorrows He sings the most precious songs. There is always a promise given, a word of comfort and a peace provided in Him that lights up every darkness with Shekinah glory.

Why does God allow these light and momentary sufferings? For the sanctifying of the soul, His own glory, and the anticipation of heaven.

Seen this way and now considered, can we call our own affections ‘light?’ Fixing our eyes on eternity, can we endure in this present state ‘but for the moment?’ Spirit of Truth has enlightened the enigma. Now can we leave rebellious opinions, self-pity and unbelief behind.


So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.  2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (MSG)

Want to learn more, read The Glory Series, parables about God’s glory expressed by J.L. Kelly.

Ash Wednesday. DUST from day 1 of Lent. Are you doing something religious?

DUST from Day 1 of Lent.  Are you doing something religious?


Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent and I went to a local service. It’s what I call ‘High Church’, the serious service my Bible church raise sons moan is the up-down, up-down recite, recite, recite. But it’s where I grew up and it feels like home to me even though I’ve never been to Trinity Lutheran before. This church has been in the cultural district of downtown Fort Worth for 70 years.  The building has that sixties feeling about it in the Googie architecture style, showcasing a high up swept triangular roof, curvaceous outings paired with geometric shapes and the bold use of glass, steel and neon colors. The stain glass is a tide-dyed ombre of colors that’s picked up in the altar cloths embroidery on purple and the baptismal has doves, shells and fire carved into its wood like the iconic symbols I’ve seen on old peace posters.  And there are candles, waiting to be lit and I wait, still and silent, inviting Spirit to speak to my spirit.

The entrance of the Cross arrives where the congregation stands as if a bride were coming down the aisle and yet it is our Bridegroom. His golden cross bore up in tender hands of a teenage acolyte. Light shines from the candles now and we stand for the confession of sins, a convicting list of self-indulgences I agreed I had done and then those commands I had neglected to do. My response, “Have mercy on us, O God.”  I was invited for the imposition of ashes; kneeling at the altar the mark of the cross was applied to my forehead with the just words from Genesis 3:19, “Remember, that you are dust, and to dust you will return.” I feel solemn and want to stay at the altar and pray but there’s a line behind me so I rise and sit and meditate, because today is just this-

Remember. You are Dust. Dust.

I stop trying to move ahead to the propitiation and resurrection, to the amazing grace and powerful love that transform me and stay here in Ash Wednesday. The readings are from Isaiah and Matthew reminding us of the fasting God requires and a caution to beware public piety. I smile, looking at the bold dark mark on the pastor’s forehead-our ‘religion’ couldn’t be more public today and the Homily asked the question I’m thinking, “Are you doing something religious today?” I ask myself that and know mysteriously that doctrine and experience are working out something very spiritual in my heart. These ashes placed on me have a meaning.


I was remembering with a deep respect for my roots in the faith that came from “high church”.  I was reorienting my soul in this season of life that was grieving things from the past, old ways of family life and ministry, still disoriented with new ways of empty nesting and life without teaching and limited fellowships. Scattered again God had steadily been gathering my spirit like a pot over fire about to boil and today, Ash Wednesday, I spent the day remembering.

Remember. You are Dust. Dust.

You are Dust. Dust. Finite. Frail. Fragile. Failing.
Dust. Gathered. Scattered.
Dust. Formed. Reformed.
Dust. Pruned. Protected.
Dust. Dying. As we were meant to do. Dead to self. Alive to Christ.
Dust. Returning to our place. In the Potter’s baptizing hands, dust becomes washed, wet, reborn.
Clay.Purposefully crafted. An empty vessel. Filled. Water. Light. Love.
Meant to overflow. Not indulge itself. Inwardly or outwardly.
Remember now. Me you keep on following. Abide in me. Spirit filled. you are fruit. you overflow.

There was a prayer; Merciful God, we return to you. Accompany our journey through these 40 days. Renew us that we may provide for those who are poor, pray for those in need, fast from self-indulgence and above all find our treasure in the life of your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is a blessing given: Go forth into the world to serve God with gladness; be of good courage; hold fast to that which is good; render to no one evil for evil; strengthen the faint hearted and hurting; support the weak; help the afflicted; honor all people; love and serve God, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Remember. You are Dust. Dust.

Want to learn more, read The Honor series, parables about honoring God expressed by J.L. Kelly.