WISH WE HAD MORE TRIALS
Suffering for Christ’s sake must be a great gift, or else God
wouldn’t grant us the gracious privilege. I’m referring to
Philippians 2:29: "For to you it is graciously granted, for Christ’s
sake, not only to be believing on Him, but to be suffering for His
Believing is graciously granted, we all concede. But what
of this other? To be suffering for His sake. Yes. This, too,
is graciously granted. What? You mean it’s not a sign divine
indignation? Not a cosmic accident? Not a bad day? No. Rather, it’s
grace. If we’re suffering for Him, it means that we’re doing
something right; He’s doing us a favor. It means that He has chosen
us in grace for a high privilege. What privilege? To enjoy an even
higher reward of glory.
"(We are) joint enjoyers of Christ’s allotment, if so be that we
are suffering together, that we should be glorified together also"
This life isn’t all there is. If there were no resurrection, we
would be the laughingstock of all people. But since there is
a resurrection, we are the laughingstock of all people.
"For the momentary lightness of our affliction is producing for
us a transcendently transcendent eonian burden of glory..." (2 Cor.
"Transcendent" isn’t a mystical word. In the Greek it means,
"over-cast." This is not a meteorological term, but means, "cast up
over all else." It’s something incredibly high, higher than the
highest thing. The apostle wants to emphasize this, so he calls the
glory "transcendently transcendent." This sounds like ridiculous
redundancy, and it is. Paul had nothing in his language to describe
it, so he does the best he can with what he has. When he runs out of
words, he simply repeats the best one he has.
Note that our afflictions are what produce the burden of eonian
glory. (Note: "eonian" is a transliteration of the Greek aionion.
It means, "having to do with eons." Our glory will last
forever—everyone knows that—but how wonderful to know that it
pulsates as well through the following two glorious eons. Not
everyone enjoys the privilege of eonian glory. Billions of people
will be dead during the two glorious eons ahead. We enjoy eonian
glory because Christ favors us.) There is still glory without heavy
suffering. That is, we don’t need to bear heavy crosses here to
enjoy resurrection life there. Salvation is free. But we won’t know
the transcendent depths of glory unless we suffer for His
sake. Often, this includes crosses.
Someone is elbowing into the text, saying: "Average glory is good
enough for me. Keep the cross out of my life." I understand that. I
can relate to that. I don’t like crosses, either. If this is how you
feel, then a crossless life is perfect for you. Live your life and
worship God however you can.
Others want to taste everything. They want to taste glory to the dregs,
and our Lord Jesus Christ knows who they are. To accommodate them, He
graciously grants that they should taste suffering to the dregs as well.
This suffering has to be graciously granted, because no one can start up
a suffering program to win glory. Men and women can’t whip themselves,
starve themselves or seclude themselves into glory. Our sufferings, in
order to count, must be graciously granted by God; God is up to the
task. So just keep living, try to have a good time without breaking the
law, and leave the "graciously granted" part to Him. What I’m telling
you is: don’t become the author of your own trials. He thinks up good
enough ones without you helping Him.
Note that the trials are called "light," while the glory is a
"burden." Paul had a healthy perspective here. We often suppose that
these trials are weighty and that the glory could never eclipse the
pain. This is so wrong.
Our bodies need to be changed. Why? Because we can’t carry so much
glory in these frames. Without new bodies, we couldn’t bear the glory
ahead. It would be like asking a light bulb filament to channel a
Comparatively, then, our present burdens are light. This is
hard to understand now, in the heat of battle. But one day soon, when
you feel the glory, you are going to thank God for every tear. You are
going to thank God for every minute of every trial you were ever called
upon to endure. And then you’re going to say, "Oh, God. So this
is why I had to go through that."
And then you’re going to wish you had gone through more. For real.