Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying,our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather,we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone,but the things we cannot see will last forever. (NLT)
One of the challenges of following Jesus is that we need to walk a bit of a tightrope when it comes to our expectations of life. On the one hand we can lose our balance by assuming that things will only come good in heaven and till then we grit our teeth and endure life as best we can. We expect too little.
On the other hand,we can lose our balance by assuming the blessings of heaven can be fully appropriated now-if only we had enough faith and understanding (or read the right books or gone to the right conferences!). We expect too much.
Paul offers a balanced perspective. He doesn’t minimise or ignore our present hardships. He doesn’t expect them to vanish because he has super faith or is extraordinarily obedient. Then again,he doesn’t give up in despair. He can testify to a measure of victory now,and to the sustaining power of the Spirit to keep him going. But he realises that complete victory lies in the future.
We are called upon to hold in one hand the promise of how it will be and in the other hand the reality of how hard it is now. We are neither free of trouble or helpless victims of trouble. We have a taste of heaven,but not the complete reality. We dare not deny that the age to come has invaded our present age. We dare not assume that this present age is no more. We live thankfully in the ‘now’ and hope confidently for the ‘not yet’.