Suffering never feels short while we’re in the middle of it. If we’re cast down by grief or sickness or depression, a single hour can feel like a whole agonizing week. It feels like we’ll never be out the other side of the pain.
God has a different view of time: with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (2 Peter 3:8). By his reckoning, our time on this earth is like a fleeting vapour (James 4:14). When we reach eternity, the sufferings of this life will come into sharp perspective. They will barely be a blip in our eternal lives.
I don’t want to minimise the immense suffering that many people face in this life. I have no idea what it’s like to endure seventy years of debilitating pain, or the cataclysmic loss of a spouse or child. But in whatever suffering I face, big or small, I find great comfort in this promise:
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:10–11)
Even the worst agony in this world is only temporary—“a little while” from the perspective of eternity.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is only for a little while.
Aching joints are only for a little while.
Grief is only for a little while.
Fear and anxiety are only for a little while.
Singleness is only for a little while.
Disappointment is only for a little while.
Sin is only for a little while.
While all these things last, I don’t have a meagre supply of help. I have the generous God of “all grace” sustaining me. And he will surely bring me into eternal glory. One of my favourite Charles Spurgeon quotes lifts my heart to desire the world to come:
And, after death, what cometh? What wonder-world will open upon our astonished sight? What scene of glory will be unfolded to our view? No traveller has ever returned to tell. But we know enough of the heavenly land to make us welcome our summons thither with joy and gladness…This shall be our last removal, to dwell forever with him we love, in the midst of his people, in the presence of God. Christian, meditate much on heaven, it will help thee to press on, and to forget the toil of the way. This vale of tears is but the pathway to the better country: this world of woe is but the stepping-stone to a world of bliss.1
Friends, we will have all this. It will just be a little while longer.