William Stout / General
2 Corinthians 4:17
Our Light Affliction
2 Corinthians 4:17 NKJV
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
- Seriously? What doe Paul mean by saying, “our light affliction?”
- Some of us are going through heavy affliction; where do you come off calling it light?
- I know people who are struggling with real issues, some life, and death, some desperate. Light?
- Yet Paul is writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and knows whereof he speaks.
- Somehow, referring to all of our afflictions as “light affliction”
- Whatever your affliction, it is really light. Here are seven reasons why that is true:
I. Your affliction is light when compared with that of many others.
- No matter how heavy, there are others with worse.
- Consider our Brothers and Sisters in Christ in other parts of the world
- Consider those less fortunate than us even here
- Paul was not suggesting that Christians did not struggle with afflictions
- in fact, the bible says “many are the afflictions….”
- Earlier in this chapter, he put his statement in the proper context by recognizing this:
2 Corinthians 4:7–14 NKJV
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—
always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
So then death is working in us, but life in you.
And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak,
knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.
2 Corinthians 4:16 NKJV
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
- Paul endured incredible afflictions—he speaks from experience.
- He wrote of some of his own afflictions in 2 Corinthians 11
2 Corinthians 11:24–28 NKJV
From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.
Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;
in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—
besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.
- Surely not many of us can compare our afflictions with those of Paul and so many others
II. Your affliction is light compared with your deserts.
- It is unworthy to be compared to the woes of the lost (slightly revealed in the story of rich man and Lazarus).
- No matter what afflictions we suffer here, we can be sure it is “light” compared to the torments to come, as Lazarus and the rich man saw
- You actually deserve the woes of hell (and would have them were it not for the grace of God in Christ).
- Romans 3 tells us that the whole world is guilty before God. We are all guilty of sin and deserving of eternal affliction in hell
- I have at times found myself crying out “I don’t deserve this”, but in fact, there is only one person in history who was treated worse than he deserved to be. Jesus
III. Your affliction is light compared to that of your Lord.
- He drained an ultimate cup of woe.
- He took upon himself the wrath we deserved – far more than the nails alone
Isaiah 53:3–5 NKJV
He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
- Thus the One who regulates our afflictions knows exactly what afflictions really are.
IV. Your affliction is light compared with the blessings you enjoy.
- It is important to keep things in perspective and “forget not His benefits”
- Most of us, if we are honest, even when we are struggling with some particular affliction is still enjoying so many, many benefits
- an excellent example of this in Abraham Lincoln’s first Thanksgiving proclamation.
- Our “afflictions truly are “light” when they are compared to the manifold blessings that most of us enjoy, even the poor among us
- and in most cases we needn’t even look beyond the natural realm to prove this, however, when we look at the whole picture, it becomes irrefutable:
- We possess:
- Salvation. – you have been translated from the death to life – from darkness to light
- Righteousness. – we have a new nature, old things have passed away
- Adoption. – whereas once we were enemies of God through wicked works, now we are children who cry Abba, Father!
- The privileges of the children of God. – if Children then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ!
- The assurance of future glories.
1 Corinthians 2:9–10 NKJV
But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
- No amount of affliction can take these blessings away (or outweigh them either).
V. Your affliction is light in comparison to its benefits to you.
- It proves the power of sustaining grace.
- How our faith has grown through some of the afflictions we have overcome
- It is designed of God to make changes in you.
- being pressed into the place where you must rely on God alone through faith (or not), will always change you
- It can drive out sin.
- It can develop character.
- It can deepen your walk with God.
- We can come to the place where we simply are not moved by these afflictions
- Where, like Paul, we can say “none of these things move me”
- It is through these “light afflictions” that we really learn of the eternal weight of glory which outweighs and overpowers them.
VI. Your affliction is light because of its relative brevity.
- “Which is but for a moment”—it is not lasting.
2 Corinthians 4:18 KJV 1900
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
- It must be viewed as relative.
- Compare it to the overall span of life.
- when we’ve been there 10,000 years . . .
- Compare it to the reach of eternity.
VII. Your affliction is light in comparison to the glory to be revealed.
- Paul refers to “a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
- Not that your afflictions aren’t real, not that they don’t matter, but when placed in the scales, they are so far outweighed
Romans 8:18 KJV 1900
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
- Handling the affliction right can increase the weight of glory.
- It can make us more what God wants us to be.
- It can increase the weight of the reward awaiting us.
God cares about your Afflictions
- Having said all the preceding, I want you to know that whatever your affliction, and however light, God cares for you
1 Peter 5:7 KJV 1900
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
- Jesus said that in the world we would have some tribulation – but that we can be of good cheer because He has overcome the world
- There is nothing you cannot talk to Him about
- So, even as we keep these afflictions in proper perspective as to their relative lightness, we can boldly look to God for help and deliverance also
Hebrews 4:14–16 KJV 1900
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
- Handling our afflictions correctly can be much a matter of focus.
- Focus on the afflictions, and they become heavy.
- Focus on what God is doing through them, and they lose weight.
- Whatever it is that you are going through, will you see it through God’s eyes?
- Or will you see it as some heavy weight?
- Paul says, “For our light affliction which is but for a moment,” and we should agree with him.