Eternal eyes, that’s what my friend Madeline prays her children and grandchildren would have. Her family has gone through a tumultuous season that ended with the death of her daughter. As the family grieves from this horrific loss, Madeline longs for them to be less and less nearsighted—consumed by the pain of this world. And to be more and more farsighted—filled with hope in our loving God.
The apostle Paul and his co-workers experienced great suffering at the hands of persecutors and even from believers who tried to discredit them. Yet, they had their eyes fixed on eternity. Paul boldly acknowledged that “we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Although they were doing God’s work, they lived with the reality of being “hard pressed on every side,” “perplexed,” “persecuted,” and “struck down” (vv. 8–9). Shouldn’t God have delivered them from these troubles? But instead of being disappointed, Paul built his hope on the “eternal glory” that supersedes momentary troubles (v. 17). He knew God’s power was at work in him and had complete assurance that “the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus” (v. 14).
When our world around us feels shaky, may we turn our eyes to God—the eternal Rock that will never be destroyed.
I lift my eyes to You today, O God. Give me a glimpse of the security I have in You.
Paul was qualified to talk about struggle and hardship. He endured many things—blindness, slander, beatings, stoning, shipwreck, imprisonment, and ultimately execution for the sake of Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 4:8–9, Paul uses four pairs of ideas—each linked by the phrase “but not”—to express both the difficulty we may experience when we choose to follow Jesus but also the hope of our faith. “Hard pressed . . . but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” Even though we may experience difficulty or persecution, nothing can touch the eternal hope we have in Christ.