I happen to be one of those people that enjoy riding rolling coasters. I know that this is not everyone’s thing. The roller coaster does illustrate one essential truth for the believer in living in a broken world. Think about the fact that God is not asking you to make yourself Godly. He is asking you to put yourself in the place where He, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, can work in your life. You see when I go to an amusement park, I am not going to design, build or even operate the roller coaster. No, I go to ride and enjoy the work of others. The same is true for God’s working in our lives through difficulties. He wants us to hold on to Him for the ride that is making us more Godly.
Each week, as I study, I come across more Biblical truth than can be fit into a sermon. It is also more than most people can absorb. You may have heard that saying “The mind or heart can only absorb what the seat can handle!” One of the verses that we did not have time for is, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,” (2 Corinthians 4:17) If you are a student of the Bible this verse should raise several questions, like “What is Paul taking about?”
The obvious answer to that question is that he is speaking of the contrast between our present challenges compared to what God has prepared for us. (note also Romans 8:18). One of the secrets to living through those dark valleys of life is to remember that what you have to look forward to will make it worth the struggle. This would be a key takeaway for every follower of Jesus.
I want to, however, focus on a couple other “secrets.” First, Paul is not saying that handling the difficult times with patient endurance is what makes us more mature. He is also not saying that by figuring out how to handle it we become more spiritual. You might say “If I have the right attitude it does help me to grow spiritually.” You might also push back that, “My investment in the spiritual disciplines, like prayer, also produces growth in my life!” I agree with you. The key here is who is doing the work.
The point of this verse is that God is working in you through the trials of life to transform you into being a living example of Jesus to others. Just like my roller coaster illustration, he is not asking you to design, build, operate, repair or even understand how it works. He is asking you to get in, sit down, strap in and let Him work in your life. This is huge. It means that we abdicate the control of our lives to the Creator!
All that he asks us to do, as seen verse 18, is to take our eyes off the situations and circumstances and focus on Him and His promises! So no matter how small or how enormous the struggle… God is working through it preparing us for something much, much greater “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
-Pastor Joe Parkinson