When the Bible talks about our light affliction, what is it saying? Is it talking about every bad thing we experience as humans? Is it talking about the after-effects of our wrong choices? Sometimes, Christians who are poor think poverty is their light afflictions but we must define what light affliction is in the context of what the Bible is talking about. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:17
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”Tweet
Light affliction is not the general problems that humans go through; it is the discipline, discomfort and contentment that we are willing to endure for the sake of Christ. Light affliction is not a misfortune but the sacrifice of self for the sake of our faith. The Bible says in the previous verses in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
“We are pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”Tweet
There are times we are pressed on every side, this pressing might be an experience of discomfort and even lack; not because we lack ideas but because we have prioritized Jesus over every other thing. There are times we might get confused because we left so many things behind just to live and walk with Jesus and it seems we aren’t being rewarded, there are times we get persecuted and rejected because we decide to stand on God’s word rather than subscribe to the world’s unhelpful philosophies and there are times we get struck down and beaten! This is what the Bible refers to as light affliction. Not all afflictions you experience as a believer is a light affliction.
For example, the believer may be poor not because he is a believer but because he didn’t work on the ideas he had. The believer may not give birth to children, not because she is a believer but because she isn’t medically fit to have a baby. A Christian may fail exams and not do well in school, not because of their faith but because they didn’t study hard. These things are general human problems they are afflictions but not the “light affliction” that God’s word talks about.
Let’s see it this way: It is painful to be pregnant for nine months but these pains can never surpass the joy of carrying your baby and watching the baby grow! It is a kind of light affliction in the human sense because it is not something you are perpetually going to experience for the rest of your life. Your baby will outlive the nine months of pain and the travails of motherhood become a shout of joy. A student must be willing to go through years of discipline and commitment but if you can pull through to the end, the glory of being skilful in your area of study can’t be compared with what you went through.
Now, let’s bring it to the Christian context. Light afflictions aren’t truly your unfortunate experiences of life which every other person goes through regardless of who they are. Being wealthy or being poor has nothing to do with religion or race. Your light affliction as a believer is the carrying of your cross and following Jesus. For example, friends may leave you because of your faith in Christ, families may reject you because of your faith and you may deny yourself certain pleasures and opportunities just because it is a compromise of what you believe. However, the promise we have is that they are light afflictions as long as they are for the sake of Christ and it is an introduction to an eternal weight of glory.
The Bible says that we should present our bodies as living sacrifices. Sacrifices are normally dead for them to be used but we are living sacrifices in the sense that we have a choice, we can decide to walk away but then we willingly give up our rights, pleasure and time for the sake of Christ and for the sake of others whom Christ has committed to us. This means we may have opportunities for revenge but because our life isn’t our own anymore we stay clear of vengeance! This means we may get opportunities to engage in illegal means of living a wealthy life but because we have been laid on the altar of Christ, we give up such opportunities.
Sometimes, we are too afraid to go through our light affliction, but for every glory, there must be willingness to endure something! For every fame, there is a shame attached to it. Just like you must go through pains to bear a child and go through the stress of schooling just to obtain certain knowledge, skills and get certified; you must also go through certain light afflictions as a Christian but these things don’t last forever! It is just for a time. This may never sound like what you want to hear but if you desire the glory, you must be willing to bear the shame! You must be willing to get rejected by friends, to be laughed at because of what you believe and be criticized! Jesus never promised that it would be easy, He said in Matthew 16:24
“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your way, take up your cross, and follow me.”Tweet
Picking up the cross doesn’t mean the burdens of life. It would be pride to say that the problems you are going through which is common to everybody are a “cross” that you are carrying for the sake of Christ. The cross isn’t the natural burdens of life but the willingness to lay down your own life for the sake of Christ. This doesn’t mean you must experience extreme consequences of following Christ but it means that you “must be willing” to experience these things if they come. Jesus passed through His light affliction but each time He looked ahead to see the weight of glory waiting for Him, He kept enduring.
For everything you go through for the sake of Christ, there is a weight of glory waiting for you! I don’t know what that glory is, I don’t know when it is going to come but one thing I know is that even this entire life will not be enough to contain it. You are meant to endure your light affliction, you are meant to stay through it and your light affliction is your capital for glory! You cannot evade the process of glory and the path to glory is filled with ups and downs, it isn’t smooth. Greatness becomes a curse for anyone who skipped through all the process to the top. It is these processes that train us for greatness.
Your light affliction is the journey to destiny. Abraham had a promise but he lived all his life without seeing that promise manifest the way he might have envisioned it but he trusted God and kept walking! Today, we are called the Children of Abraham. As a believer, you outlive this earth and even if you have to endure these afflictions all through your stay on earth, there is always a greater hope! The Apostles went through all manner of persecutions but they were looking at the weight of glory ahead of them, they were seeing these glories in Jesus!
No wonder Paul said “to die is gain but to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21) and no wonder Stephen saw Jesus when he was being stoned to death (Act 7:56). Their eyes were all on Jesus and not on the afflictions. People’s rejection of you because of your faith isn’t an indication that you are doing something wrong, it is a sign that you are on your way to being crowned with glory. How to live through the light afflictions is to fix our gaze on Jesus. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:2
“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honour beside God’s throne”Tweet
There is a joy awaiting you after the afflictions, some of these joy starts from this earth but it doesn’t end on earth because the glory is eternal! Some of us live in the parts of the world where we may have to die for the sake of Jesus while some live in the part of the world where the worst they would experience is to be rejected by friends and families but whatever class you fall into, Jesus said in Luke 18:29-30
“no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30will fail to receive many times more in this age—and in the age to come, eternal life.”Tweet
Take a look at Joseph, he had a dream and all the while he was dreaming, he never knew there was a price to pay for that kind of glory but we know the end of the story for Joseph, we know what became of him later and we know that whatever he went through was a means to glory. Sometimes, your light affliction is experienced in service too! There are times it is not so interesting to serve, there are times telling people about Jesus becomes dangerous to the flesh, there are times we have to make sacrifices and do something the flesh doesn’t want. But because we know where we are going, we can endure that light affliction. If we can’t endure it, we wouldn’t have been asked to do so.
Your light affliction may be staying hungry because you had to give to the poor, it may be getting rejected by friends and family, it may be getting persecuted in your workplace or by the government because you stand firm in Jesus, it may those times people laugh at you and call you a coward because you have chosen to love your enemies… Whatever your light affliction is, you can walk through it and always remember, after the night comes the morning. The affliction is light because the weight of glory attached to it is nothing to be compared!
The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:10
“In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory through Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.”Tweet
God bless you!