Eternal eyes, that’s what my friend Madeline prays her children and grandchildren would have. Her family has gone through a tumultuous season that ended with the death of her daughter. As the family grieves from this horrific loss, Madeline longs for them to be less and less nearsighted—consumed by the pain of this world. And to be more and more farsighted—filled with hope in our loving God.
The apostle Paul and his co-workers experienced great suffering at the hands of persecutors and even from believers who tried to discredit them. Yet, they had their eyes fixed on eternity. Paul boldly acknowledged that “we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Although they were doing God’s work, they lived with the reality of being “hard pressed on every side,” “perplexed,” “persecuted,” and “struck down” (vv. 8–9). Shouldn’t God have delivered them from these troubles? But instead of being disappointed, Paul built his hope on the “eternal glory” that supersedes momentary troubles (v. 17). He knew God’s power was at work in him and had complete assurance that “the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus” (v. 14).
When our world around us feels shaky, may we turn our eyes to God—the eternal Rock that will never be destroyed.
7But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.11For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.12So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 13It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”[a] Since we have that same spirit of[b] faith, we also believe and therefore speak,14because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.15All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
In what do you choose to hope in spite of your difficulties?
How have you experienced God’s faithfulness?
Paul was qualified to talk about struggle and hardship. He endured many things—blindness, slander, beatings, stoning, shipwreck, imprisonment, and ultimately execution for the sake of Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 4:8–9, Paul uses four pairs of ideas—each linked by the phrase “but not”—to express both the difficulty we may experience when we choose to follow Jesus but also the hope of our faith. “Hard pressed . . . but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” Even though we may experience difficulty or persecution, nothing can touch the eternal hope we have in Christ.
I lift my eyes to You today, O God. Give me a glimpse of the security I have in You. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen!!