Servants are not born, they are made. When God chooses an individual to be a servant, He begins by forming them, molding them, and chiseling them, that they might be vessels of honor in His hands. The more a servant experiences the presence and work of God in their life, the more they comes to view their present circumstances as the means by which God is purifying and renewing them. A servant views trials and affliction in their life very differently than the world does, because a servant is continually and fully trusting of the Master and His plan for their continued growth in both faith and grace.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our light affliction, which is but a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
No words can more adequately portray the two ideas of affliction and glory than these written by Paul some two thousand years ago. These words are altogether powerful and appropriate, preparing the heart for the possibility of affliction, but encouraging it by highlighting the aftereffects and positive aspects of what affliction will produce.
It is as though Paul is taking a scale, and placing the weight of affliction on one side, counterbalances it with the glory that is soon to follow. The difference is staggering. The weight of our afflictions, when counterbalanced with the eternal weight of glory, is both momentary and light, not worthy of mention or contemplation.
I realize afflictions and hardships are never easy, and that no matter how light, suffering is always a serious concern. I am not attempting to minimize heartache, affliction or suffering, or their affect but rather to open your eyes to the reality that if the foundation from which you perceive hardship is shifted from the physical to the spiritual, you will not perceive it as a catastrophe, but as a light and momentary occurrence that soon passes giving way to a far more exceeding and eternal glory.
Without faith, without hope, even the smallest setback seems like the end of the world, so much so that it doesn’t take an earth shattering event to bring some to the edge of hopelessness and despair.
In the midst of trials and hardships, faith sees the means by which God sends His blessings and makes us fruitful. Absence of faith looks upon trials and hardships as enemies whose singular desire is to destroy one’s life. Afflictions compel us not to trust in the things that are seen, but rather in those things that are not seen. It is in our times of distress, in our times of hardship that we press in, and discover the greatness of God’s love, and it is when we are surrounded by greatest of darkness that we see all the more clearly His brilliant light.
As believers, as servants of God, we do not seek out affliction, but when it comes, we are at peace knowing that we rest in the embrace of our heavenly Father. We know by faith, that God has prepared a blessing for us, even though momentarily we see only the affliction, we know that by way of the cross, we will enter into His providence. Affliction and victory go hand in hand, and if we have victory without affliction it only means that others suffered the affliction in our stead. By the same token, if we experience affliction without victory, may we take strength in the knowledge that those who will follow after us will obtain the victory of our afflictions.
No matter the circumstance, no matter the affliction or the hardship, a servant of God, and a follower of Christ sees them as profitable and worthwhile experiences. As an elderly preacher once said, affliction is the plough that tills the soil of the soul in preparation for receiving eternal truth, and removes the stones in its path that the glory of God might have no obstacles standing in its way.
Affliction forms us, and seeing the aftereffects, the finished product, the growth and the maturity that God worked in us gives us confidence and strengthens our faith. True faith has open eyes by which it perceives and seeks after spiritual things. There is an inconsistency in the lives of many who call themselves believers today, because while they claim to be followers of Christ, they are wholly given over the seeking after and desiring temporal and earthly things. When someone claims to have faith, yet ignores the spiritual in favor of the physical, then their faith is either a false faith, or an immature faith that as yet has not had its eyes open to the beauty of the kingdom of God.
Those who have not had their eyes opened to the beauty of God’s kingdom, are impatient and unwilling to wait that they might receive eternal joy, the only joy that remains, and so go about attempting to manufacture joy here on earth, a joy that is fleeting and illusive. Whatever joy some might find in sin, it is only temporary, followed by the pain and heartache of its consequences. But like impatient children, who are unwilling to wait for the grapes to ripen on the vine, the world today takes fistfuls of unripe grapes and hungrily eats them, only to be left with a sour taste in their mouth, and an uneasy feeling in the pit of their stomach.
Even in the midst of affliction a servant of God retains his joy, because his joy is cocooned in hope, and protected from the direct affects of hardship and trial. Our hope comes by way of knowing fully and wholeheartedly that whatever hardship or affliction we might be going through, God has a purpose and a plan.
It is with eyes of faith that we see beyond our present circumstance, it is with eyes of faith that we see past our present afflictions, and with full assurance that when the glory of God is revealed in us, when we journey from the valley and ascend to the mountaintop, we will count these afflictions as light and momentary.
Our goal is eternity, the final destination for every faithful servant and believer. Come what may in this life, come what may in this fleeting existence on this earth, we must view it in contrast with the home that Jesus went to prepare of us. When we view this present life in light of the life to come, when we view our present affliction as ways and means by which God is molding and chiseling us, we will continue to have hope, we will continue to rejoice, we will continue to give glory to God, not because of our circumstances but in spite of our circumstances. This is one of the great differences between the servants of God, and those still shackled by the things of the world. The children of God do not require a life of ease and opulence on this earth in order to have joy, we do not require the absence of trials and afflictions in order to posses peace, but we have joy and peace in spite of the hardships we endure, because we know that God stands with us, and in His love He is forming us into that true and faithful servant that He desires us to be.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.