Monday, January 29, 2007

Affliction Redirecting our Gaze

My contemplation inspired by the sermon, “Light Affliction and Eternal Glory” preached in 1857, by J. C. Philpot

"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen– for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Cor. 4:17, 18

Affliction "for a moment," glory eternal. All of these relatively light sufferings and sorrows in this speck of time will result in a weighty, eternal glorification in Christ.
Our natural bent is to look continually at "the things which are seen." Day by day we stare at the things that surround us; those things with which we have much to do. Our employment, legitimate cares, duties to our families and friends, recreational amusements, the disciplines of daily living– all are saying, "Look to me! think of me, this has got to be done! The things which are seen include:
> What the natural eye can rest on
> What the natural ear hears
> What the natural heart plans
> What the tongue declares.
In a word, it is all of which our natural life consists. Grace alone enables us to look at the superior eternal, unseen things.

Out of proportion, things of time and sense drown our spiritual longings for the Lord Jesus. The natural man bullies the spiritual man, opposing spiritual appetite, entangling our affections, and dragging us from the heavenlies to earth.

But in abundant thanks, we welcome the affliction brought on us by the persistent grace of the Lord that loosens the grip of things seen. Thank God, He has an “affliction in his treasure-house” that he commissions as a messenger to rescue the withering soul of the earth-bound saint.

Shattered dreams interrupt our stare at the things that surround us, and reveal to us mercifully, that He has not really had first place in our affections. As sanctified affliction purifies our spiritual sight, eternal things come into view with their solemn, healing weight of glory. We see the glorious truth that compared with these eternal realities, the things of time are not worth the attention we give them. The affections of our hearts reverse and begin to flow heavenward.

We see more clearly how lovely and precious is our Jesus and worthy of all our best affections. Under affliction's sharp, gracious discipline, we begin at last to press forward towards heaven and glory! This speck of time is swallowed up in a glimpse of an eternal weight of glory and a spiritual bud pops inside us as we realize that these eternal, unseen glories stretch into ages following ages followed by a billion more ages, our perceptions of the attributes of God weighing heavier and heavier in their glory. Now we give thanks for trial and affliction– blessing the Father of Lights for the sanctifying effect it produces; and we praise God with all our hearts that he was kind enough to lay his rod upon us and we say with David, "Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now I have kept your word."

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