UV 2723/10000 Fading Suffering Leads to Unfading Glory
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
2 Corinthians 4 v 17
All the troubles and afflictions of our lifetime are light when compared with the eternal rewards awaiting the faithful in the life to come. Even if a person’s life is shortened by martyrdom, he is rewarded with eternal, unending life and the glorious reward of a martyr in heaven. If his life is full of tears and pain, he will one day enter a realm without tears and pain. If he is condemned, accused, scorned, punished in this world, he will be rewarded exceedingly with a crown of glory in the world to come. It was this perspective that enabled the early faith fathers to endure much suffering, trials, torment, scourging, poverty, shame and painful execution by the cruellest of methods man could devise like being torn apart by wild beasts, set on fire, crucifixion. They endured all of it like an athlete who subjects himself to discipline, knowing that his efforts will lead to his being crowned some day with a wreath or crown that perishes. But the cross of Christ leads to a crown of imperishable glory.
St Paul suffered many afflictions in the course of his ministry like being stoned, beaten with iron rods, imprisoned, shipwrecked, stripped, starved, betrayed, persecuted, accused falsely and so on. Yet he endured it all with a sense of joy, focussing his eyes on the author , the One who began his journey of faith on the road to Damascus and the finisher, the One who promised to be with him all the days of his life and receive him into eternity with a crown of unfading, undying glory. He did not wallow in self pity in the hard times he went through but imitated Christ , the glorious Son of God who embraced poverty, affliction and misery on earth to lift all mankind who believe in His promise to eternal glory which eye has not seen, neither ear heard or any mind imagined. We too need to think lightly of the afflictions we have experienced in our lives hitherto and renew our joy and faith by anticipation of the eternal, unseen crown of glory.
Afflictions test our love for Christ. Troubles are the touchstone to prove the genuineness of our faith. They also purify us and perfect us in the eyes of the Lord. They strengthen our character and remove every trace of superfluity of ego, vanity and emotions. During the trials and times of trouble, we experience a new dimension of our relationship with the Lord and His love and grace. The intensity of intimacy with the Lord increases. Our faith is purified and strengthened even as steel is wrought in fire, even as gold is purified in refining fire. Our experiences of tough times shape us and make us more patient and mature. The hope of recognition and reward by the Lord who is faithful to His promises sustains us in these times for we know that the reward would be so disproportionate to the extent of our suffering that we cannot even compare the two.
Prateep V Philip