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 http://4jlkelly.org

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.

Dust.

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.

2-corinthians-4-17-18

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.

GLORY. This is heavy. What does Glory mean?

“Glory is a word of uncertain origin,” the etymology dictionary stated well.
One of those ancient words we use but what does Glory mean?

The Hebrew root words seem deep as they define Glory as heavy or weighty. I read that the first time and thought, heavy? I thought glory was bright and brilliant, magnificent splendor and it is defined that way in Old French.

Gloire “the splendor of God or Christ; praise offered to God, worship, glory (of God); worldly honor, renown; splendor, magnificence, pomp” (11c., Modern French gloire).
From the Latin there is gloria “fame, renown, great praise or honor.”
The Greek took the Latin word and gave us another way to think about Glory, they called it doxa (From dokeō, “to  seem”) and defined it as “expectation” (Homer), later “an opinion, judgment or estimate and hence the honor resulting from a good opinion.”

Glory is used of the nature and acts of God in self-manifestation, what He essentially is and does, as exhibited in whatever way He reveals Himself in these respects.

In worship, God is Glorified; ascribing honor to Him as we acknowledge Him as to His being, attributes and acts. A doxology from the Ancient Greek (doxa, “glory” and logia, “saying”) is a short hymn of praises to God and the tradition derives from a similar practice in the Jewish synagogue to end each section of the service.

Listen to Nicole Nordeman sing the doxology.

Opps…rabbit trail...quickly forming…

Back to the future and our topic.  “Whoa, this is heavy!” I repeat what was proclaimed in all three Back to the Future movies by Marty and the slang helps me understand glory as heavy:

1) When something is unbelievable, out of the ordinary.
2) When something is good, excellent, brilliant.
(Urban Dictionary)

Let me sum up Glory by combing these thoughts into a stated definition.

Tweet this defintion: Glory is the extraordinary, mind-blowing weightiness of God’s presence as He brings to light & manifests all the goodness that He has & is.

When God’s presence appeared, manifested, was brought to light from the supernatural unseen world into the natural seen world, people were blown away, overwhelmed, almost crushed as they fell to their face under just a glimpse of the ‘weightiness of God’.

Glory has no true metaphor.

Its truth is so unbelievably heavy that the finite mind can’t hold it all.
The Bible tries to help us with examples like a glory that surrounds a king, the fruitfulness of a forest ( Isa 35:2 ; 60:13 ), even the awesomeness of a horse’s snorting ( Job 39:20 ), or the ornateness of expensive clothing ( Luke 7:25 ).

Glory is the extraordinary, mind-blowing weightiness of God’s presence as He brings to light or manifests all the goodness that He has and is. Glory is when holiness comes to expression.

We see. God for who He is. “Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is seen for who he is, and God seen for who he is in him. The moment God is seen in him, God’s glory will be on display. In glorifying him, he himself is glorified—glory all around!” John 13:31-32 (the Message)

Jesus Christ the son of God is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. Hebrews 1:3

This Jesus; crucified, dead and buried—was resurrected. Heavy. Hallelujah! Glory! Yes.

At creation, only man was given a deposit of this glory, we were made in the image of God  (imago dei). God animated our souls with His God’s breath.  Man can express our worship of God only because from our spirit, where that deposit of glory rest, our soul’s interpreter speaks using man’s tongue. The glory of man above all created, uses words to declare praises.

Man’s highest glory is found in his lowest posture, laying crowns at Glory’s pierced feet; for only He is worthy to receive glory and honor and power and praise.

Man has his glory days. They are found in his worldly position, in the sense of his possessions, in a young man’s strength and old man’s wisdom. At a deeper level man’s glory is found in our willingness to overlook the faults of others or avoiding strife, or sacrificially serve others. But too often man’s pursuit of folly shows that we do not live up to our glorious calling to worship God and our human glory can become an expression of independence from God. We find our eyes fixed on the earth instead of heaven. The glory days ring with ‘look at me, think of me, do not neglect me. Wash-rinse-repeat me. Busy, busy, glorifying me. What breaks the cycle?

Affliction and suffering, trials and tribulation. Call it a financial crisis, health scare, family difficulty. Those nasty things that weigh us down and bring self to a screeching halt when we realize, ‘self cannot do this life thing alone’. We turn back to God (repent). Now, if you are a partaker of grace and are able to weigh the Lord’s dealings with you, look at the results of those trials. What spiritual profit have you reaped from them?

Transformation has glory’s fingerprints all over it.

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulation also– knowing that tribulation works patience, and patience experience, and experience hope; and hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us.” Romans 5:3

Glory is a gift given to us in Holy Spirit.  Christ in you, the hope of glory (col 1:27); that extraordinary, mind-blowing weightiness of God’s presence as He brings to light or manifests all the goodness that He has and is. Glory is when holiness comes to expression.

J.C. Philpot preached, “There is a certain preparation necessary for the manifestation of that grace to the soul which is the beginning and the pledge of eternal glory. For instance, ‘guilt of conscience’ prepares the soul for the blood of sprinkling. The arrows of the Almighty, shot into the heart from his unerring bow, prepare it for the balm of Gilead; a taste of hell for a taste of heaven; the thunders of the law for the consolations of the gospel; views of self for views of Christ. Apprehensions of the wrath to come hunt the soul out of every false refuge, convince it of its need of an imputed righteousness, and preserve it from resting in a name to live. It is thus that the deepest trials usually issue in the greatest deliverances, the sorest distress in the sweetest consolation, and the pangs of hell in the joys of heaven.”

Paul is telling us, “In our sinful state, with our finite mind and our weak, frail body and emotions, we could not bear the weight of the immortal glory prepared for us.” Remember, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 cor 2:9

This is the “weight of glory” that the apostle speaks of– beholding and enjoying that mind-blowing weightiness of God’s presence in the Godhead trinity of Father, Son and Spirit for eternity. “We shall see Him as He is and know even as we are known.” 1 John 3:2

Jesus prayed for us this way, “My prayer is for those who will believe in me … I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” (John 17)

As God is the saints’ glory so they are His.

That’s heavy. It blows my mind. It bows my body. It lifts my empty hands and opens my speechless mouth. It swells up in my soul and manifests in an overflow of God breathed words.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Glory.

The extraordinary, mind-blowing weightiness of God’s presence as He brings to light or manifests all the goodness that He has and is.

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