Saturday, February 22, 2014

Light Affliction and Eternal Glory

From the cradle to the coffin, affliction and sorrow are the appointed lot of man. He comes into the world with a wailing cry, and he often leaves it with an agonizing groan. Well is this earth called "a valley of tears," for it is wet with them in infancy, youth, manhood, and old age. In every land, in every climate, scenes of misery and wretchedness everywhere meet the eye, besides those deeper griefs and heart-rending sorrows which lie concealed from all observation; so that we may well say of the life of man that, like Ezekiel's scroll, it is "written within and without, and there is written therein lamentations, and mourning and woe."

But this is not all. The scene does not end here. We see up to death, but we do not see beyond death. To see a man die without Christ is like standing at a distance, and seeing a man fall from a lofty cliff– we see him fall, but we do not see the crash on the rocks below. So we see a man die, but when we gaze upon the lifeless corpse, in the case of him who dies without a saving interest in Christ, we do not see how his soul falls with a mighty crash upon the rock of God's eternal justice. After weeks or months of sickness and pain, the pale, cold face may lie in calm repose under the coffin lid, when the soul is only just entering upon an eternity of woe!

But is it all thus dark and gloomy both in life and death? Is heaven always hung with a canopy of black? Are there no beams of light, no rays of gladness, that shine through these dark clouds of affliction, misery, and woe that are spread over the human race? Yes; there is one point in this dark scene out of which beams of light and rays of glory shine. It is as if looking up in a dark and gloomy night, when the heavens gathered blackness, we saw all at once the clouds rent asunder, and the cross of Christ hung up in the sky, from every point of which beamed forth rays of unspeakable glory.

So it is with the children of God as they journey through this valley of tears– they are afflicted like other men, their fellow sinners and fellow mortals, and often a larger portion of affliction falls to their lot than to those whose portion is in this life. By these sufferings and sorrows they are bowed down with grief and trouble, and all is dark and gloomy without and within; but a ray of light falls upon their soul; they look up, and they see a once suffering Jesus, now sitting at the right hand of the Father, and around his glorious throne they view a band of immortal spirits, who have come out of great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Those are the great "cloud of witnesses" to the love and faithfulness of a covenant God, who seem to speak from heaven to earth and say– "Brother, suffer on! The cross before the crown; the cup of wormwood and gall, the baptism of suffering and blood, before the pleasures which are at God's right hand for evermore."
[J. C. Philpot]
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ... For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;  While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Hebrews 12:1-2 ... Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. ❤