We all have our struggles. Jesus never told us that we wouldn’t; in fact, He promised that we would. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Our troubles shouldn’t diminish our faith or disillusion us. We should realize that there is a purpose in our suffering. Problems and human limitations have several benefits. Yes I said benefits! They remind us of Christ’s suffering for us; they keep us from pride; they cause us to look beyond this brief life; and they prove our faith to others. Our current struggles give God the opportunity to demonstrate His power. So we should see our troubles as opportunities!
It’s not easy to view our struggles in light of eternity, but that’s what Paul is encouraging us to do. “It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to Himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:13-18)
Our ultimate hope when we are experiencing terrible illness, persecution, or pain is the realization that this life is not all there is–there is life after death! Knowing that we will live forever with God in a place without sin and suffering can help us live above the pain that we face in this life. The experiences and circumstances of this present life are visible to the Christian; but these are merely temporary and fleeting. To fix our eyes on them would cause us to “lose heart”.
By contrast the unseen realities, which are no less real for being invisible, are eternal and imperishable. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Heb. 11:1) Accordingly, we look up and away from the impermanent appearances of this present world scene. “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Php 3:20). So instead of looking at our present and temporary circumstances, let’s look to our Lord and our ultimate home: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18)