Ever come inside from working out in the cold, changed out of your freezing, wet clothes, and into something warm and cozy? Have you ever had to travel away from home, and then experienced that moment when the plane lands, it slowly taxis to the terminal, the door eventually opens, your turn to leave arrives, and you finally make it to the waiting area where you see human beings other than tired, crabby passengers? Or, maybe you just have to attend boring social events for work, and can’t wait until that moment when someone else starts the process of wrapping up and leaving (so your excuse to escape doesn’t sound so contrived!).
I remember (vaguely, since it was quite a while ago) the feeling when I completed the last exam for a semester of college. It’s as if I was ten pounds lighter – free of the constant burden of studying and homework hanging over my head. To be honest, there are days when I can’t wait to just complete the 18-minute drive home from work. (For those of you who live in the big city and spend 18 minutes just between lights…sorry!)
The times in our lives that we have to wait are a challenge, to be sure; however, we have something even greater than these things to look forward to:
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 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.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NASB
In clearer moments, when I’m impatient and feel like I’ll never get to my destination, I remember that:
- For every long drive I’ve been on, I eventually ended up getting somewhere. (Those who are familiar with my poor navigation skills know that I don’t always end up where I intended, though.)
- For every airplane I’ve been in that took off, it eventually landed again. (Takeoffs are optional; landings are mandatory.)
- Every class I took eventually wrapped up – whether an individual class, or the entire semester.
- Every meeting eventually finished – whether good results were achieved, or not.
Our troubles may seem anything but light or momentary. Someday, though, they will pale in comparison to the joy of eternity with God.
Let me be clear that I’m not trying to trivialize our burdens, or pretend that they don’t exist. Nor should we marginalize the pain of others – see I [Don’t] Know How You Feel. Instead, let us follow the instructions of Romans 12:15:
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Romans 12:15 NASB
Our burdens aren’t meant to be carried alone. There are many of us who carry around weights in our lives that simply exceed what we feel we can bear. In these cases, God certainly intervenes, but He also expects His people to help: whether to provide something professional (like financial help, a strong back, or counseling), or just offer shoulders to be cried upon.
If you’re in a situation like this, I hope that you can find a local church – a group of believers – who will offer you a blessing in God’s name: not just for a day, but over the years. The church is not the “occasional meeting place of a bunch of people with the same idea”; it is the Body of Christ, and genuine relationships among members of the same body are a long-term investment in each other.
May we help others with their burdens, while they wait for the pain to subside or be taken away. May we make others’ burdens lighter, and more “momentary”. May we point others to the message of 2 Corinthians 4, and – even while reminding them of the greater glory that awaits – bring a bit of that glory to their lives today, in Jesus’ name.
To get back to the benefit of perspective in our own lives, check out Part 2 of this article.