The secret to not losing heart is where we look
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 so we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us and eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
It’s amazing that Paul didn’t lose heart. His list of sufferings goes on and on – he was beaten numerous times, scourged, left for dead, shipwrecked, spent long stints in prisons, opposed at every turn, threatened, hated, abandoned, betrayed, mocked, and had people constantly trying to undermine his work.
Yet he didn’t lose heart. He calls his sufferings “light and momentary,” though they were extremely painful and lasted for years. They don’t sound light and momentary to me Paul. Our outer self wasting away sounds heavy and long-lasting. So Paul, how do you see them as light and momentary? How do you keep from losing heart?
Paul wouldn’t claim he had some secret way to make it so he didn’t feel the bite of the whip. He wasn’t a Pollyanna who only saw the world through rose colored glasses. He really suffered. Yet he didn’t lose heart.
So what was his secret? How did he keep from losing heart? How did he stay so joyful and hopeful?
It was where he looked.
He looked “not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.” He kept his focus on things above. Eternal things. And as he did so he was able to make a comparison.
It was the comparison that showed his earthly afflictions to be light and momentary. Looking at his afflictions by themselves, they were heavy and seemingly unending. But IN COMPARISON to the incredible rewards they were producing in heaven, IN COMPARISON to the eternal weight of glory they were forming above, IN COMPARISON, his earthly pain was light and momentary. In fact, the glories and rewards he saw in heaven were BEYOND ALL COMPARISON to things here.
But this realization only takes place AS (big word!) we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.
To the eternal. To the heavenly weight. To the glory. So it was Paul’s constant focus through the eyes of faith on the eternal joys of heaven, the eternal glories and rewards that his sufferings here were producing that gave him courage to not lose heart. If he had focused only on his sufferings here, he would have given up.
So Paul made a decision where to keep his gaze – on things above. On eternal things. Not on the momentary. That’s how you can get through your affliction. It’s what you look at. It’s where you focus. Though your suffering is great here, keep comparing it to your reward. Keep comparing it to the joys of heaven. The weight of glory Jesus has prepared for you that you will enjoy for 10,000 times 10,000 years. The rapturous beauty of Jesus you will feast on forever and ever.
Don’t lose heart. In the blink of an eye you’ll be in heaven.
There you’ll say “Compared to this, my suffering on earth was nothing. Compared to this my suffering back then was a blip.” Don’t lose heart. Keep looking above.