Job 37:1-24; 2 Corinthians 4:13-18; Psalms 44:23-26; Proverbs 14:13-14
NT: “And since we have the same spirit of faith in keeping with what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke, we also believed, and therefore speak. For we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you. Indeed, everything is for your benefit so that, as grace extends through more and more people, it may cause thanksgiving to increase to the glory of God. Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:13-18 CSB)
A mark of maturity is the ability to delay gratification and keep long-term commitments. An infant has no understanding of waiting. When they are hungry, they demand to be fed and have no capacity to be patient. When a child enters the “terrible twos,” part of the terrible that comes with that stage in life is an increased self-awareness and self-will without the ability to wait for what they want – so they throw a fit when their wants are not gratified immediately. Delayed gratification and the ability to commit to something long-term must be taught and developed over time – and it requires a certain level of faith in something that you hope for, but can’t see just yet.
In Hebrews chapter 11, the writer listed numbers of men and women who, over the course of history, endured much trial, tribulation and persecution for a reward that they never got to see in their physical life. Talk about delayed gratification! How were they able to endure so much for so long? Faith. Hebrews 11:1 states, “Now faith is the reality or assurance of what is hoped for, the proof or conviction of what is not seen.” The Bible describes an entire spiritual universe, of which we are a part, that is unseen – and that universe, though unseen, is more real that what we can see with our eyes. The way that we as believers are able to see and believe in the unseen is by faith. An immature believer who is weak in faith, only has the capacity to see and understand the here and now physical world – but as a believer in the Lord grows in maturity and faith, they are able to see beyond life here and now to the eternal life to come. That is partly what Christ referred to when He taught His followers to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. At this point, the Kingdom of God is not a physical kingdom – but it will become a physical kingdom in the unseen and eternal age to come. We are called to seek it nonetheless, by faith.
How was Paul able to endure so much hardship and physical affliction? How was he able to commit the rest of his life, no matter the challenge, to seek God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness? Mature faith. By faith, Paul knew (and we can know) that the Lord would raise him up on that last day so spend eternity with Christ. By faith, Paul expected (and we can expect) that God would work all things that occurred by following His will for Paul’s good. By faith, Paul could (and we can) look beyond the present sufferings of this world to an eternal reward. Paul’s eyes were on the prize – the crown of glory at the end of the race – and he was willing to endure all to claim the prize. Compared to the weight of the glory he would received, his current hardships and sometimes torturous afflictions seemed light. We don’t suffer for suffering’s sake and expect our suffering to turn into glory – but if in the course of pursuing the Lord’s word, will and ways we experience suffering – that suffering has an eternal payoff. We don’t cast off and reject the temporary things of this world – but with faith’s perspective, we don’t seek first the things of this world, but use them with an eternal purpose in mind. That is a mark of spiritual maturity.
Prayer: Lord, by faith, I believe that in You, there is far more ahead of me than what this present physical life can afford. Help me, as You lead me from glory to glory, to not become enamored by the temporary things of this world, but to be willing to endure all that this world throws at me as I follow You, seek first Your kingdom and pursue Your righteousness… all for the weight of glory that is to come. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.