2 Corinthians 4:17a – For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. (NLT)
It kept returning — that pesky little spider! The creature was free to explore the wide world of nature during the outdoor worship service. Yet it preferred my notes — the very spot from where I was preaching. Finally, after several failed attempts to flick it away, I surrendered my territorial battle with this unwanted guest. I let it stay, and within moments, it disappeared.
But not really! Spiders are not easily flicked from one's mind. They linger. I could not resist announcing its persistent presence to my listeners. And then, alas, it was on their minds, too — perhaps overshadowing the very message that I had just shared. I fear that some may have remembered only the spider!
How can tiny things eclipse far grander things? How can the moon eclipse the sun with the sun's radically vaster size? How can any of our concerns become more significant than God's infinite goodness and power? And yet it happens.
It's all about perspective, how we position ourselves in the scheme of things. The closer that we position ourselves to our troubles, the bigger they appear. The further that we position ourselves from God, the smaller He appears. That gives us a terribly distorted perspective, which hampers our ability to think logically. We'll turn every spidery intrusion into a main event. We'll waste time and energy flicking away at it, and in the process, we'll get entangled in the spidery webs that we create. We risk losing sight of God entirely. His grand promises will become faded and hazy in our minds.
The apostle Paul had an accurate perspective. His "small" problems were "in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger" (2 Corinthians 6:4b-5 NIV). For Paul, these were small compared with the grander thing: "God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:19 NIV). That was the main event; not the troubles! It was "the time of God's favor"! (2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV) From this vantage point, Paul could say:
2 Corinthians 4:17 – For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (NIV)
Life's trials can help us to acquire that perspective. We may even now be tested by a pesky "thing" which persists while we try to flick it away. Perhaps it's an annoying person, a false accusation, a bad habit, or a controversy. Do we dwell on these "light and momentary troubles", making them the entire focus of our thoughts, conversations, and prayers? God may be saying, Can you leave this "thing" on your "page" and dwell on My grand message and purposes? If so, you'll gain the perspective of your heavenly Father, Who desires, above all, that His name be hallowed and honoured, and His will be achieved through your "light and momentary troubles". "Thy will be done!" we pray.
It surprised me how quickly the pesky spider disappeared after I stopped dealing with it. A troubling issue can do that, too. It goes away eventually if we leave it alone, in God's hands. At least it won't be such a big deal to us, and we'll be better equipped to handle it. We'll see that God is far greater than the issue, reasoning that "Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear." (Isaiah 59:1 NIV)
Prayer: Lord, we confess our tendency to be problem-focused rather than Christ-focused. Help us to gain a more truthful perspective of everything, that we may live wisely, undeterred by every light and momentary trouble that lands in front of us. Amen.
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