“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.”2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NIV)
Recently, I sat in early morning silence and attempted to read God’s Word, but the word why kept tumbling out of my mouth. Before I knew it, I fell into a joy-stealing loop: Why, Lord, would You allow that painful struggle? Why, Lord, will this difficult season not end? Why?!
Do you ever find yourself tripping over past painful events? Maybe a traumatic experience like divorce, a sudden loss or a friend’s betrayal has left you in a jumbled mess. Or maybe the “smaller” trials of life have combined into one big ball of hurt bouncing around in your heart.
Whatever the reason, you might find yourself hung up on the age-old question of “Why?” It’s one of the earliest questions we learn to ask, and it remains on our lips as difficult circumstances roll into our lives. We may pray and read our Bibles, but that nagging question has a potent way of keeping us stuck and hijacking our joy. Before long, enemy-fueled doubts begin assaulting the space between our ears:
I wonder if God has forgotten about me.
Maybe He’s abandoned me altogether.
His good plans must be for someone else, not me.
The morning I got stuck on that question, God graciously stopped my negative spiral by reminding me of what some of our spiritual giants endured. There’s Joseph, who spent years in servitude and prison after being sold into slavery by his brothers. There’s David, who had to flee the palace for his life and endure years on the run to escape the sword of King Saul.
And then there’s Paul, the writer of today’s key verse. He suffered multiple beatings, imprisonments and an intrusive “thorn in the flesh” that God never removed (2 Corinthians 12:7, CSB). Yet unlike my why-riddled prayer journals, Paul wrote these extraordinary words:
“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” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17).
Paul’s perspective stuns me, for his trials were anything but light and momentary! And yet he held fast to God’s bigger vision for his life. How could a man with plenty of “Why?” moments exhibit this kind of faith? The next verse reveals Paul’s secret to steadfast trust: “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 4:18, NIV).
Paul grasped the critical truth that, on this earth, we see only part of the story, and through our tangled web of troubles, God works to accomplish His unseen, eternal purposes. Paul understood that God would weave the “Why?” moments into something beautiful and far more valuable than the temporary, earthly comfort we often crave.
In hindsight, we see this truth in action. We watch Joseph ascend to power in Egypt and David take his anointed place as King of Israel. We see Paul’s perseverance result in many of our treasured books of the New Testament.
And those confusing, painful “Why?” moments they endured? Each moment played a crucial role! For without descending into a dungeon, Joseph could never have ascended to power. Without the chaos of persecution, David could never have worn the crown. And without his tribulations, Paul could never have spread the gospel throughout the new world.
Your heavenly Father wants to use your “Why?” moments in the same way. He hasn’t forgotten or abandoned you or decided you’re not worthy of good things. He loves you deeply and even now works to redeem your most agonizing moments.
We can walk in hope, knowing that God’s strength renews us each day. And in His strength, we get to decide that our “Why?” moments will no longer keep us stuck or steal our joy. In faith, we can place our pain into His capable hands – for we serve a God who turns our misery into a masterpiece.
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for the unseen, eternal work You’re doing in my life. Help me trust You with my heartache, knowing that it’s only part of the story. Grant me the strength to persevere today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.