“For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17). How long is “momentary”? “In this [future salvation] you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials” (I Peter 1:6). Even a lifetime is short when compared to forever.
Most people reverse the process, and that is also true: short-term gain, long-term pain. The gain of a secret affair and the loss of respect from children who once almost worshiped Dad. An exciting high followed by a five-year addiction. The ease of two hours of nightly TV, and a marriage that goes flat. The joy of video games for ten years and a job at Wendy’s with the inability to get married and support a family. And they question what went wrong.
Try to avoid pain, and you just increased it. Accept it as part of the process, and you are preparing for exalted joy. Take the easy path, and your engine will stall out when you need it running.
Take your cue from Jesus, who “for the joy set before him, endured the cross despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). He didn’t enjoy the cross—He endured it for the long-term gain behind it.
Or read I Peter, that often puts suffering and glory in the same sentence. Peter didn’t like the thought of suffering when he first heard it from Jesus. When he got it, he really got it!
Even the gateway to life tells the story: “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. The gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt. 7:13,14). Did you hear the word “easy”? Going to hell is easy. Is hell itself easy? Talk about long-term pain…
Any pain you have been avoiding that you may need to embrace? Perhaps…
The pain of confrontation. Jesus brought this gift at awkward times, like dinner parties, when people compromised truth. Integrity will get you in trouble, but you will hear the applause of heaven and sleep well at night.
The pain of going without. People who fast say it turns to a feast, because it increases revelation, not immediately but eventually.
The pain of exercise. Go ahead—apply artificial pain to your body. Do it now, and when you’re eighty you will be thankful. Paul told Timothy that “physical training is of some value” (I Tim. 4:8). Hey, we’ll take “some.”
The pain of accepting insults. Paul received them with gratitude, knowing that what humbled him brought grace, which meant great gain. Learn to live above offense and walk into a sea of joyfulness. A friend once said to me, “Just so you know, Paul, it’s almost impossible to offend me.” Sounds like wisdom.
The pain of saying no. Moses “chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.” He “regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward” (Heb. 11:25,26). The exchange rate in eternity for suffering now is out of this world. Cash in your trials and resistance to sin for great payback in the new earth. We dare not tire. Victory is near at hand. Your no to sin is accompanied by a strong yes to divine pleasure!