“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So 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 4:16-18).
In this passage the apostle Paul tells us not to lose heart. He gives three reasons. They are couched in contrasting terms. I call them, the contrasts of hope.
1. Outwardly and Inwardly
“Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (verse 16)
Our hope lies in the fact that even though outwardly we are physically wasting away through age and ill health yet inwardly we are being renewed and refreshed by the Spirit of God day after day.
We may look weak and worn outwardly but we can be assured that inwardly we are being kept strong and vital by the daily mercies of God. His mercy for us is new every morning (Lamentation 3:23).
2. Momentary and Eternal
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (verse 17).
The journey in life is often filled with troubles and afflictions. No one is spared from the pains and struggles. Yet apostle Paul deems all that as “light and momentary.” It is because at the end of this long and winding journey, there awaits “an eternal glory” that will make all our pain and hardship pale in comparison.
Our hope lies in the truth that our momentary troubles will lead us to eternal glory.
Pain and suffering do not have the last word. They are momentary for the eternal waits.
3. Seen and Unseen
“So 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” (verse 18).
What is seen is temporary, be it your material wealth, your bank account, your house, your car, your career, status, achievements and accolades. What the human eyes can see are temporal.
But what is unseen is eternal. The Lord Jesus whom we believe and yet not see is eternal. He is in us, for us and with us till the very end of age (Matthew 28:20).
Our hope is anchored and kept strong by fixing our eyes “not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.”
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (I Corinthians 2:9).
When it is darkest on the side of the outward, momentary and seen, hope shines brightest on the other side of inward, eternal and unseen.
That’s the contrasts of hope.