2 Corinthians, 4:13-18 (NRSV)
But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture – “I believed, and so I spoke” – we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
In Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth, he makes the point that all our worldly “afflictions” will someday pass and God’s grace and promise of eternal life will ultimately prevail. To help make the point, Paul refers to Psalm 116, noting how the Psalmist talks about keeping faith in the Lord, even when “greatly afflicted.” Paul also notes that worldly “afflictions” are self-evident, or in his words, “can be seen.” However, the promise of salvation in God’s eternal embrace “cannot be seen.” This promise is an act of grace on God’s part and is based on our God given faith alone.
So what do we do with Paul’s message to the Corinthians? Here at Lewinsville, our Deacons, Christ Care Groups, committees, social groups, choirs, staff members, and others are already hard at work on the “afflictions” part! They are ministering to all of us, knowing that they will not necessarily be able to cure our “afflictions.” However, Church members are actively listening, praying, singing and ringing on our behalf. In times of sickness, we visit each other. As we age, many receive Sunday afternoon Communion visits from Deacons and Elders. These caring acts help to sustain us in times of affliction. Later, and in God’s own time, we will surely receive salvation by way of God’s own grace.
Lord, we recognize that our afflictions are only temporary and ask that you stand by us as we attend to both our own needs and the needs of others in our Church and beyond. We give thanks that in a time determined by you, our afflictions will no longer be with us; rather we will receive your “glory beyond all measure.” Amen.