Looking Beyond Suffering

James 4:13  Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14  yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

When I was first injured, everything changed.  I became acutely aware that I was not in control.  My plans were finished and a whole new unknown future lay before me.  Within the first few months following my accident I found this passage of scripture that provided comfort that I have clung to since that time.  With the backdrop of a family that knew and loved God, friends and a church who were coming around me to support me in my time of need and an upbringing that taught me from childhood about God and how he has worked in the past and about how scripture points toward future prophetic fulfillment, God gave me through this passage, an eternal perspective that has encouraged me to never give up.

14b What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

We were all made for eternity.  While we all had a beginning at conception, our lives from that point on will have no end.  Even if we would manage to live 150 years on earth, that amount of time is like a mist that quickly vanishes compared with the eternity for which we were created.  I like to use the example of a yardstick.  Imagine a yardstick extending out in both directions with no end either way, our time that we live on earth could be represented by a fraction of one of the measurement marks on the stick. A friend of mine, trying to comfort me (and probably himself) regarding my inability to move, told me immediately after I was injured, “I am sure it is only temporary.”  He was absolutely right!  Although probably not exactly what he meant, an eternal perspective has enabled me to endure knowing that ALL of life on earth is only temporary and we have yet to experience the awesome reality for which we were created. The apostle Paul had the right perspective knowing that our sufferings are nothing compared with our eternal future glory.

Rom 8:18  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

He also recognized that all our accomplishments will pale in comparison to the glory that we will see with Christ for an eternity in heaven.

Philip 3:7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 ¶ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

When we can look at life from an eternal perspective, the things of the world are less important, our trials and suffering are more bearable and our hope for an end to suffering and pain is strengthened and reinforced. This hope of mine is only possible, however, because it is built on the foundation that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. Anyone whose only hope is in the things of this world and the accomplishments that are amassed during the brevity of a lifetime will be shocked by an eternity of pain and suffering that will cause the good good things in life to quickly become a fading dream and memory.

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