Skip to content ↓

The Thing About Light and Momentary

The Thing About Light and Momentary

They are words that can be tremendously encouraging or tremendously discouraging. Said at the wrong time or in the wrong spirit they can compound hurt, but said at the right time and in the right spirit they can be a cool drink on a hot day, a soothing balm on a sore wound. They are the words “light and momentary.” As the Apostle suffered physically and spiritually, as he spoke of the outer self wasting away, he proclaimed “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” His suffering was real. It was harmful and hurtful, weighty and lengthy. And yet he told no lie when he said it was just as truly light and momentary.

When I was a child I would sometimes help my dad, a landscaper, on his job sites. He would do the planting while I would bring him the materials. I’d have to load the wheelbarrow with flats of plants or heaps of soil and do my best to lug it over to him. “You can do it,” he would say. “It’s not that far and it’s not that heavy.” And in a sense he was right—it wasn’t that far and it wasn’t that heavy. But he was looking at it from the perspective of a man while I was looking at it from the perspective of a boy. He was grown and strong while I was small and weak. Now that I’m an adult I would agree that it’s an easy load and a short haul. But back then it took everything I had.

And I think this helps us get at what Paul is saying. Sorrow truly is heavy and hard in the moment. It calls for strength and endurance, fortitude and perseverance. It does us no good to minimize our pain or downplay our suffering. We need not suffer with dry eyes and impassive hearts. We are Christians, not Stoics. We are followers of a Savior who stood outside the tomb of his friend and wept, a Savior who knows what it is to have his heart broken. Tears are so sacred, so precious that God promises that not one goes unseen and unnoticed.

Yet even as our suffering is excruciating it is also light and even while it feels endless it is also momentary. To understand this we must engage our faith and move forward in time—forward beyond time. Through faith we can transport ourselves to the future and see the glories of heaven, the endless ages of joy, the completion of divine purposes. And now, from this shifted perspective, we can look back on our suffering. As we look forward from present to future our suffering is heavy and long, but as we look back from future to present it is light and momentary. Faith allows us to see this, to feel this, to believe this.

The deepest sorrow on earth is light in comparison to the smallest pleasure of heaven.

The deepest sorrow on earth is light in comparison to the smallest pleasure of heaven. It is a feather against an anvil, a grain of sand against a mountain, a drop of water against the mighty Pacific. The longest sorrow on earth is momentary in comparison to the shortest joy in heaven. It is a second against a year, a step against a marathon, a single tick of a clock against an entire age. It’s faith that allows us to see this and faith that allows us to believe it.

We may not judge today’s afflictions light and momentary. And, in fact, there is a very real sense in which they are not. So as we bear these burdens and endure these sorrows, as we feel their pain and cry our tears, we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen, not on this day but on that one. And we say, with faith, “I can and will endure this light, momentary affliction as it prepares me for the full weight of glory that will prove far beyond all comparison.”

  • Tear Down Build Up

    It’s Easier to Tear Down than Build Up

    In my travels, I encountered a man whose work is demolition. When buildings are old and decrepit, or even when they just need to be removed to make way for others, his job is to destroy them and haul them away. New or old, big or small, plain or fancy—it makes no difference to him.…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (June 12)

    A La Carte: Does Bach’s music prove the existence of God? / Living from approval, not for approval / A surprising test of true faith / Do you have the support you need to grow? / Who was the “black Spurgeon?” / and more.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (June 11)

    A La Carte: The blessing of constant curiosity / Church discipline in the digital age / Don’t be too easy to join / Body matters in Genesis / The local church is a sandbox / Seasons in a pastor’s life / and more.

  • Trusting Jesus in The Public Square 

    This week the blog is sponsored by Moody Publishers. Parents have a biblical responsibility to protect their children not only from physical harm but also from spiritual harm. It is entirely appropriate and right for a parent to wrestle with whether they want to allow their child to continue to have a friendship with a…

  • that First Sports Bet

    Young Man, Don’t Even Make that First Sports Bet

    It’s impossible to avoid the advertising and impossible to miss the claims. Sports are great, they say, but do you know what makes them even better? Adding a little wager. Sports are exciting, they say, but even more exciting when you’ve got a bit of money riding on them. So why not enjoy them all…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (June 10)

    A La Carte: Feminism’s patriarchs / Thank you, parents, for your Sunday faithfulness / Godly sorrow vs worldly sorrow / Being transformed from the inside out / What if everyone at your church was like you? / The gift and skill of praise in lament / Kindle deals / and more.