Chapter 4:13-18 (ESV) - Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Question to consider: How does the resurrection of Christ renew us during painful times?
I don’t know how else to put this, but in our sinful nature, we have a warped perception of life and the world. We tend to judge God’s blessing by material things. So if a church is growing by leaps and bounds, we think it must be favored by God. If someone has amassed both wealth and power, we consider them doubly blessed. If someone has been given a strong and healthy body, we assume they are living in the will of God.
So when Paul faced persecution and hunger and imprisonment, people questioned whether he really was an apostle. The glaring hole in this way of thinking is that Jesus was the most persecuted, the most afflicted and suffered a death reserved for those cursed by God. This of course was a stumbling block to the Jews who couldn’t fathom the Messiah being cursed by God, but the reality is that the curse Jesus bore on the cross was our own.
So Paul is pointing out in his letter to the Corinthians that in their afflictions, they were bearing the death of Christ. They were more like Christ in their affliction than in all of their material blessings combined. Knowing this, we should also realize that “he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.” If you went through the study of 1 Corinthians, I emphasized that the resurrection of Christ is pivotal to everything.
The one who wrote this letter encountered Jesus raised from the dead. Paul didn’t act on a faith that was blind. He gave up all of his wealth and fame as a Pharisee to be beaten and mocked and imprisoned because Jesus rose from the dead. Thankfully, God has given us an abundance of historical evidence to corroborate the testimony of the apostles so our own faith can be based on reason and evidence.
Knowing that Christ was raised from the dead allows us to not lose heart. Paul points out that our afflictions seem light and momentary when contrasted with the eternal blessings that await us. I realize that time seems to slow to a crawl in our pain, but that is why it is important that we stop focusing on our temporary pain and instead focus on Christ and what awaits us when we are reunited with Him.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for giving us Your unchanging word that was carried along by people in history who physically walked with our resurrected Lord. Thank You for renewing us in the midst of a sinful world that is bent on afflicting us because we belong to Christ. Help us to stand up for life and truth and to love those who persecute us so that they may see the death of Christ born in us and turn to You in repentance. Amen.