This statement by Paul (2 Corinthians 4:16) sums up what we aim to achieve by reading God’s word every day. Of course much depends on the spirit with which we read. Finding adequate time to read is a challenge; and then there is little time for meditation on what has been read. But it is important to make an effort to do this for the effectiveness of our reading multiplies in our minds.
In this godless age many face times of difficulty and frustration. Note what Paul says, “for this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (verse 17). Nearly all of us have some positive things in our daily experiences and if we highlight these in our minds they are invaluable in preventing worldly concerns from dominating our thoughts. It is God’s word that helps most of all – but that depends on how receptive our minds are.
We all experience things which tend to frustrate us, but Paul says, “do not lose heart” (verse 16) and, as we see his list of afflictions, ours are modest by comparison. Paul did not lose heart because he did not look on “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” (verse 18). Let’s try harder to follow his way of thinking.
In our younger days we climbed a few mountains and often we were surrounded by clouds, but then, suddenly they lift and we realise how far we have climbed and how wonderful the view. Progress in the believer’s life is like this.
Jeremiah is an exception to the general experience of “light affliction”. We noted his lament; “we get our bread at the peril of our lives … the joy of our hearts has ceased” (5:9,15) and we think this could be happening at times to some of our brothers and sisters in other countries. For all these, Paul’s words are full of meaning and it is vital and they know that their “inner nature is being renewed day by day”. They may sometimes feel as Paul did, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair … struck down, but not destroyed” (4:8,9). Let us remember them in our prayers, sensing how it helps in the renewal of our own inner nature (1:11).