Thursday, October 9, 2014

2 Corinthians 4:17 -- On Affliction

"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;"
2 Corinthians 4:17

The idea of affliction and how it works is an interesting one.  The idea is not always one that we embrace, of course, but in terms of what it does for us, perhaps it is important enough to take a closer look.  1 Nephi 20:10 and Isaiah 48:10 both offer us "I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction."  Alma 34:41 exhorts us to "have patience, and bear with those afflictions, with a firm hope that ye shall one day rest from all your afflictions."  Affliction seems to be a necessary part of our lives on earth, but one that is temporary and from which we will eventually be able to rest.  God chooses us through our afflictions and the way that we handle them, and grow from them.  And truthfully, if we imagine a life without affliction... would we have the impetus to learn and grow without it?
This verse is interesting because it says that our affliction is "light" and "but for a moment."  We certainly don't always feel that way about it, but perhaps we will at some point.  Our perspective is limited here, and we often wear self-imposed blinders that don't allow us to see anything but our own problems and our own pain.  Compared to eternity though, even the longest life or the harshest affliction pales.  And isn't that okay?  God doesn't dismiss our pain as meaningless, but he promises us that our enjoyment and glory will far outweigh it.  He tells us that eventually it will feel like it was a very short time, and that compared to what it teaches us and makes us into, it is totally worth it.  We see this even during our lives.  With time, even the harshest, most soul-rending trials fade, and we are able to gain perspective and peace with regard to them.  And we are able to see clearly what we have learned and how we have grown as a result of our sometimes painful experiences.
Today, in the midst of our afflictions, let's remember that this is the way that God chooses us and teaches us.  Let's accept these necessary lessons, with the promise that we will eventually rest, and with the additional knowledge that every trial we experience is far outweighed by the blessings that God will grant us as we learn and become who we are learning to be by navigating the trials in our lives.  As children, we often thought that the things our parents required of us were painful, horrible... perhaps the end of the world at the time--our very small, narrow world.  But even more than our parents had our best interests in mind then, God's goal isn't torture.  He is teaching us, refining us... helping us to become stronger and better than we could ever be without any trials.  He is helping us to become who we truly can be, and more than we ever dreamed.

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