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. (NIV)
It has been said of Christians that some are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. It is true we can have such an emphasis on the life to come that we treat too lightly present-day issues. There is no excuse for followers of Jesus failing to seek extensions of God’s rule here on earth because one day his rule will come into being anyway.
However, having a longer-term perspective is vital. Paul is well aware of his earthly limitations. His physical weakness and the pressures he faces are very real. But he puts them in perspective. One day they will not even be a memory.
For all who are beset with frail or aching bodies, with broken and hurting hearts, these will end. For all those living with fractured relationships and isolating loneliness, these will pass. For all those utterly fed up with injustice, corruption and tyranny, these are not lasting. There are better times in store, perfect times in store.
This is not blind, cheery optimism. It is the promise embedded in texts like these. The burdens of our present are outweighed by future glory. Fixing our eyes on this does not mean denial of or dismissing of our present weakness. It means there is a fresh perspective to be adopted.
Our life stories are mixtures of pain and pleasure, delight and despair. But they will have a happy ending.