“Light and Momentary” Troubles: Smaller Viewed from God’s Perspective

“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. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18).

Even from the human perspective, my own immediate troubles may be “light and momentary” enough compared to what some people are struggling with. Still, I’m not exactly finding it easy to minimize them, let alone rejoice in them. It’s hard to see much good in having one’s apartment flooded from the other side of the wall for the third and worst time in four days, getting out of bed at 11:30 p. m. for an hour of sopping up water from wall-to-wall carpeting (on the night before a 9 a.m. job interview), and being told by the plumber there’s not much he can do without the adjacent apartment’s cooperation–that apartment occupied by the same rowdy renters who’ve periodically kept me awake at night for months and whom I’ve been too afraid of to confront or to report to higher authorities.

The worst part about such situations is not knowing how long they’ll last or how much worse they might get. My gift of active imagination has a dark side that loves rushing into nightmare scenarios of death and destruction (capable of exponentially outstripping anything that the more rational-minded would consider the “worst that could happen”) and keeps a favorite “coping mechanism” of retreating into controllable fantasies. When a problem obviously must have help beyond that, my first instinct is to grab the nearest convenient human and demand that he or she do something to “fix it”–which can result in considerable despair when no one is convenient, when you’re stuck in a one-person apartment and a world where voice mails seem most people’s preferred method of answering desperate phone calls. While I intellectually believe in the Scriptural concept of casting all problems and worries on God, my dominant emotional side has little patience with His apparent disinclination to direct answers and for “making things better” fast.

What to do when one feels like this: seeing mostly troubles upon troubles, 90 percent convinced that the answer to every prayer will be “no,” and almost dreading to talk to God for fear of yet another disappointment? You guessed it: that time when prayer holds least appeal is the time it’s most needed! Actually, there is no time like disappointment and delay to learn one of the most valuable spiritual-growth lessons anyone ever benefitted from: the main purpose of prayer is not to gain my choice of God’s blessings but to gain more of God Himself. Life’s pleasures and comforts, no less than its troubles, are momentary–and often even more distracting from the Giver. Better, perhaps, to be struggling and angry with God than to have everything you want and be too busy with it to give Him a second thought. Anger, once past, often leads to deeper love; indifference rarely leads to anything but more of the same.

Anger can, of course, also lead to bitterness and rebellion. The way to guard against that is, rather than praying to the point of obsession for the specific thing I desire, to give even more of my prayer time to thanking God for what I already have–even more, to praising Him for Who He is. When I look regularly at eternal glory, earthly problems will truly appear “light and momentary” to my eyes.

Everything is small when viewed from high up.

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  1. Jerrie

     /  April 17, 2014

    Great for this day. Thank you for turning our eyes to Christ each time we need it.


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