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2 Corinthians 4:17-18

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2 Corinthians 4:17-18, ‘This light and 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.’

The sufferings of this age—which are the sufferings of Christ on our behalf—are working eternal glory for those who endure them in faith. Suffering is not just a river to be crossed on the way to the promised land, it is the conquered stallion upon which we ride into that land. Suffering *as suffering* is, often, ‘meaningless,’ but suffering *as it is in YHWH’s designs* is only, ever, and always purposeful. Suffering is the birth pangs of glory.

Just as the pangs of birth are, in fact, the child being driven painfully out of the mother’s womb (such that the pangs are achieving the birth and there would be no birth apart from them), so too the sufferings of this life are labor pangs bringing about the birth of glory, in ourselves and in the cosmos (Rom 8:18-25). And we know this because we’ve seen it in the birth pangs of Christ who cries out as a woman in labor (Is.42:14) as He endures in Himself on Calvary cursed pangs by which His people are brought to birth, indeed, by which the New Creation is brought into existence, born in glory when He opens the barren womb of the earth, rising as the Firstfruits of the dead.

Because we have seen the body of Christ crucified and raised up again, and because we have seen the fruits of glory secured through that Passion, and because we ourselves are members of that same Body, we know that sufferings of those united to Him are never meaningless; cannot be meaningless. We know rather that every pain of crucifixion in this life is a labor pang leading to our birth into glory with and in the Risen Lord. The stallion of suffering was broken and mastered upon the cross, such that now, with His bridle held in the wounded hands of the Sovereign Lord, his every step—though painful now—is carrying us along the Calvary-carved path of our Lord, into the land of the living were sorrow turns to joy, where every suffering is a seed of glory, and where our tears become the very wine of blessedness.