Wednesday, 23 February 2011

How do you see your afflictions?

Are men really guilty of exaggerating their symptoms when suffering from a humble cold? I'm not so sure (not that I can pretend to be entirely neutral in this debate.) However we are all, irrespective of gender, prone to losing our perspective and magnifying our troubles in our own minds.

Paul (a man) seems to me to be a notable exception. He certainly sees his suffering, he's not in denial. In 2 Corinthians he writes:
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
2 Corinthians 4:8-10 
Later in the same letter he writes:
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.  Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
 2 Corinthians 11:25-29
How would you sum that kind of life up in a few words?

'Intense, relentless, suffering'? Paul went for 'light momentary troubles' (2 Cor 4:17)

Not because he was in denial, he saw his suffering. Not because he was tough and impervious, he speaks often in the same letter of his own weakness and fragility. It was his perspective that made the difference.
He saw his suffering, but his eyes were fixed elsewhere.

His eyes were fixed on the eternal: 'we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.' (2 Cor 4:17)

Calvin says:

‘This comparison, makes that light which previously seemed heavy, and makes that brief and momentary which seemed of boundless duration... when we have once raised our minds heavenwards a thousand years begin to look to us to be like a moment.'

Oh Lord, let us see our lives through that lens!

No comments:

Post a Comment