Title: Of Pumpkins and Pears
By Randall Vaughn
"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. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor 4:17-18 NIV)
"Light and momentary troubles"? Hmmmm...
Anyone that is in the middle of one of those "light and momentary" life and death struggles could say that it feels impossibly intense and unending. How could a reasonable person refer to such struggles as "light and momentary"?
If you have ever been in the middle of one of those "light and momentary troubles", and someone calls it a "light and momentary trouble", your feeling might be somewhat akin to wanting to slap them three ways -- hard, fast, and continuously!
How could anyone say that losing a spouse, a child, or a parent in untimely death is a "light and momentary trouble"?
How could anyone say that being beaten, or robbed, or discredited, or professionally ruined is a "light and momentary trouble"?
How could anyone say that... and the list goes on and on and on.
That is what Paul said in the above Scripture. And Paul could do so because he also understood the "big picture".
He also could do so because he had "been there". He was not quoting words from someone's textbook. He had experienced terrible tragedy, personal attack, professional ruin, and much more.
Photography has been a serious interest of mine in years past (when I had time for such pursuits). I specialized in character portraits.
In photography, an understanding of what is called "perspective" is very important. To understand "perspective", consider that a pear appears large when compared to a pea, but small when compared to a pumpkin.
Also, if you look at a house in the distance and hold a coin at arms length, the two could appear to be the same size, side by side, when in fact, the difference in their size and distance is vast. It only APPEARS to be the same because of your "perspective".
The difficulties we encounter in life loom large when compared with our feelings, our desires, and our understanding of the world around us, but small when compared with our relationship with God and our eternal destiny with Him.
In fact, although we often find it difficult to keep them in "perspective", it is those very difficulties that enhance and enrich our relationship with Him and add to the "glory" and the wonderful things we will enjoy with Him in that eternal realm.
Am I reading from someone's textbook now? Am I repeating "nice" words, "religious"-sounding words that I have read about in a counseling text somewhere?
I have experienced great pain in my life. I have endured the pain of betrayal and divorce. I have lost a spouse in untimely death. I have experienced deep and intense pain in other circumstances. I have watched a child go through terrible situations. I have faced financial loss. And that is not the end. My list goes on also.
But I have found that the more I experience in the journey called "life", the more I understand Paul. The more I have experienced pain and difficulties, the more I begin to comprehend their purpose. The more I understand that those things that used to seem so important -- really are not. The more I understand that those things that I used to almost disregard, fail to perceive, not understand -- they are most important.
And I have come to understand that the only thing that really matters is my relationship with my God, because it is the only thing I have now that is eternal.
As I ponder these things, I often feel like a little baby, just beginning to comprehend the great big world that has been all around him since his birth, yet a world that he could not see, perceive, or understand.
Paul understood that the things we see now are only temporary. They will come to an end. ALL of them. But the things we do not see (and often overlook, do not understand, or fail to perceive) are the things that will last forever.
I agree with Paul that these difficulties REALLY ARE "light and momentary". I have found that the more I focus on the eternal, my perspective changes. The more I come to understand how small these "troubles" are when compared with the infinity of God's love and the relationship He has made possible for me to have with Him.
I have also found that when my "focus" changes, so does my "perspective". If I begin to look more at myself, my feelings, my circumstances, my "here and now", my loss, etc., those troubles begin to loom large again, like the coin at arms length held up beside a house in the distance.
But when I begin to once again look at the "big picture", those things will once again take their true and proper "perspective". I then begin (again) to understand that the feelings are just feelings. They will pass. The pain is just pain. It doesn't make it hurt any less, but I know that it will pass. The disappointment is just disappointment. It too will pass. It ALL will pass. It is temporary.
All except one thing: My relationship with God. It WILL last. It is eternal. Like Him.
Does knowing this make the pain hurt less? No.
Does it make the disappointment seem not so deep? No.
Does it make those "unending" days pass more quickly? No.
But it helps me to understand that there is more in store for me than pain, hurt, loss, and disappointment. There is something wonderful waiting for me on the other side of the pain. It gives me hope that I will smile again (as impossible as that may seem when you are in the midst of one of those "troubles").
If you are hurting now, though difficult to do, try to keep it in "perspective". The circumstances WILL pass. (Remember the Scripture: "It came to pass...")
Remember the house and the coin from above? You are on a path. Your destination is the house. The house is your joy in the Lord. The coin is your pain. Don't let the "coin" of pain and difficulty rob you of the immensely greater joy waiting for you just because it is closer to you right now and obscures your view of the house that is just out of your reach (temporarily).
You will get there. Just don't lose your "perspective" along the way.