Focal Passage: 2 Corinthians 4:7-18
She had a flat tire. I realize you are going to ask if I really call that hardship. Well, not exactly and certainly not in comparison to the “real” hardships so many go through, especially in these days and times. But my friend was on her way to serve a meal at the local soup kitchen and homeless shelter when her left front tire blew out. Fortunately, there was not an accident, she was not hurt, and her car was not damaged beyond the tire, so again, I concede that calling this “hardship” is a bit of a stretch. She did have to get out of her car and change the tire before continuing on to do the service she felt called to. And so you can understand, if my friend, or someone in her shoes, would want to turn her face skyward and ask a question; “A flat tire on my way to serve at the homeless shelter?”
If the age old question is why bad things happen to good people, then the follow up question has to be what happens when doing the right things doesn’t have the proper effect.
And of course, immediately we see an issue. Whose perspective are we using when measuring what is “proper” or right?
In the focal passage, the very first verse puts that into context for us. Our treasure, the scripture says, is in “earthen vessels.” The Apostle Paul, writing here to the church at Corinth, makes a clear distinction between the human and the Divine, between the temporary and the eternal. Paul suggests that when viewed in this context, our “afflictions” are light, and last for only a moment. Interestingly, never is there even a hint that hardships won’t come, but rather that when looked at through the lens of God’s eye (as best we can anyway) we will see them differently.
My friend continued on her way that night, she changed the tire, and got to the shelter before her food was even cold. She met me and a few others from our Sunday School class, and we served many. She was a little late, and I think the grease and dust on her face wasn’t exactly a look she was going for. But standing there, serving those less fortunate, all of a sudden, her perspective changed. She was grateful instead of angry. She saw the affliction of a flat tire for what it was, temporary. And she knew that her service was of much more importance.