Though You Slay Me

Posted: October 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

Artist: Shane & Shane

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. [17] For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, [18] 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.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)

John Piper:

We do not lose heart because every single moment of our affliction in the path of obedience — whether from sickness or slander — fallen nature or fallen people — all of it is meaningful. That is, all of it — unseen to our eyes —is producing something, preparing something, for us in eternity. Verse 17: “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”

This glory, that God will show us and give us, is beyond imagination. “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). And more than that. There are special glories in the age to come brought about by your particular afflictions. That’s what verse 17 says: Your affliction is preparing [producing] for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”

That is what I mean by saying every moment of your affliction is meaningful. It has meaning. It is doing something. Causing something. Bringing about something glorious. You can’t see this. The world can’t see this. They think, and you are tempted to think, this suffering is meaningless. It’s not doing anything good. I can’t see any good coming out of this. That’s what you feel if you focus on the seen.

To which Paul responds, look to the things that are unseen. The promise of God. Nothing in your pain is meaningless. It is all preparing. Working something. Producing something — a weight of glory, a special glory for you. Just for you because of that pain.

I’ll close with an example of what I mean. The death of John the Baptist. From one angle this must be one of the most tragic stories in all the Bible. Jesus said, “Among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11). And now he is in prison because John said publicly: “No, King Herod, it is not lawful for you to have your brother Philip’s wife Herodias. You are living in adultery.”

And as he sits alone in jail, wondering, is this how the kingdom is supposed to come, Herod throws a birthday party for himself. And for a little sexual bonus for the guests he has his step daughter dance. She was so pleasing that Herod promised whatever she wanted as a gift. She consults with Herodias her mother, who hates John the Baptist, and says, “The gift I want is the head of John the Baptist on a platter” (Matthew 14:8).

And in two simple verses, it is done. And how many times have I put myself in John’s position. He is sitting there in prison hoping for release to continue his ministry and his life. The door swings open, and there are two men, one with a sword. A moment of silence. Then the executioner says, “Come over here and kneel. If you struggle, we will bind you.” “Why? What’s going on? What happened?” “They liked the king’s daughter’s dance, and she asked for your head.” And the last thing John is left thinking as his short life ends is: “A dance? A dance? My life for dance?”

And everything in us wants to cry out: Meaningless! Meaningless — except for one thing. We have looked to the unseen. And I have heard God say in 2 Corinthians 4:17: This too, this seemingly irrational, pointless, meaningless murder of a great man is preparing (producing!) for him an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.

It was not meaningless. At that moment eternity changed. A special, particular weight of glory was forged for John the Baptist forever.

And so it will be for you. Therefore, do not lose heart. Look at this unseen, eternal weight of glory day by day, and be renewed.

  1. Nancy Kuehn says:

    That is just what I needed to hear today. Thanks, Pastor Lee.

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