Taking it to Another Level

By: Rev. J. Loren Russell

2 Corinthians 4:17 NKJV

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

I must admit, I was challenged by the predicate in this verse. I am referring to the word affliction. This created a challenge because Paul, who author this text, declared that it was “working a far more exceeding and eternal weight in glory.”

Seeking greater clarity, I looked at The Living Bible paraphrase and found that they translate the scripture in the following way: “These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever!

When you investigate the Greek word for affliction, (thlipsis), you might see why I was challenged. Thlipsis means pressure, oppression, stress, anguish, crushing, squashing, squeezing, and distress. The word is illustrated as someone crushing grapes or olives in a press, which is much more descriptive and sobering than what Paul calls a “light affliction.” Earlier in the chapter, he says he and his fellow Christians, those who have not followed the god of this age (v. 4), were experiencing pressure from every side, perplexed, persecuted, struck down, in despair, and constantly feeling the pain of Christ’s crucifixion. But he takes his suffering, his agony, his affliction to another level. He says in verse 16 that while the outward man is perishing, the inward or the spiritual man is being renewed day-by-day! Interestingly, whether you suffer afflictions or not, the outward man will always perish. But the strengthening of the inward man is a decision each one must make for themselves. That takes affliction to another level.

I asked myself, how can we develop the resolve that looks thlipsis in the eye and sees it as a temporary and light affliction? This is a very practical and relevant question today as we battle through the horrors of COVID 19. Our stress levels are off the charts as a result of sickness, death, economic hardships, social isolation, social distancing, and various other challenges happening simultaneously or back-to-back in ever increasing succession throughout our community, our cities, states, nation and the world. This was the sort of thing Paul was preparing us for.

No matter how bad the situation or circumstance, it is only temporary. Paul puts it in spiritual perspective for us and uses his own situation as an example. He says that those who believe do not lose heart (v. 1) because of afflictions. “It” is being used by God to work out an eternal glory for us that far outweighs, dwarfs, and supersedes any and every affliction (thlipsis) we will ever encounter in this life. We have to see beyond the temporary tribulations of life and perceive the realm of the eternal. That is the other level Paul is talking about. Thlipsis, no matter how severe, is temporary at best, but the eternal is never ending. Afflictions are the tools the Lord uses to take us to another level, a level of eternal and everlasting peace.  

God Bless you!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial Strategy & Consulting; an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx; creator & host of “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM on Facebook LIVE and author of Matters of Faith: The Book. eBook available at www.smashwords.com/books/view/993177

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