Those Corinthians were recalcitrants. (That’s one of my current favorite words.)
When Paul wrote II Corinthians, he was having trouble in pretty much every conceivable area of his life. The influential Jewish leaders, who were the self-professed enemies of Christ, were nearly killing him every chance they got. The Christians (those recalcitrant Corinthians) didn’t trust him. Even the weather seemed to be against him. That’s why at one point he said he was “troubled on every side.”
But did you ever notice in that book, how much the word “glory” appears? (Along with “light” and “shining,” which are sort of the same idea.) Did you ever really ponder the contrast of these two concepts?
I think I knew about it, but I guess I had forgotten, because when I’ve been studying II Corinthians this time, it’s been hitting me between the eyes. Paul was in affliction and anguish in chapter 2, troubled, perplexed, persecuted, and cast down in chapter 4, groaning in chapter 5, describing his beatings, stonings, deaths (yes, deaths!), shipwrecks, dangers, weariness, painfulness, hunger, thirst, cold, and weakness in chapter 11. And I’ve barely even scratched the surface.
But this book is full of glory. That’s why for my birthday one year the verses I requested to be printed out and put on my wall were from II Corinthians—some of my very favorite verses ever. Chapter 3, verses 7-18, that contrasts the (fading) glory of the Old Covenant with the breathtaking glory of the New. Doesn’t it just make you stand in amazement? Or that part in chapter 4, where God shines in the darkness to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Doesn’t it just give you goosebumps?
Or how about at the end of chapter 4 where he contrasts all his afflictions, which were “but for a moment” (read: “this life only”) with his glories in Christ, which would be eternal.
Now there’s a man with a divine perspective.
I well remember one day when I was agonizing in prayer, “Lord show Me your glory!” I wasn’t even sure exactly what I was praying for. And what I got sure wasn’t what I expected. I entered a time of the most intense darkness in spiritual battle that I have ever known. How can I even describe it?
But in the midst of that darkness, in the waging of that war, God showed me, in some small measure, His glory. He became more real, more strong, more precious to me than I had ever known Him to be.
So I cry out with Paul, “The things that are seen don’t last. The things that are not seen are eternal.”
Take heart, dear friend, when you’re in the midst of darkness. (You know who you are.) There is hope. God is real, God is true. God is a God of justice. God is a God of hope. God is a God of joy in darkness. Keep trusting Him.
And you might want to read II Corinthians. Paul really knew what he was talking about.