This Light Momentary Affliction

This Light Momentary Affliction

Pastor Robert Zemke

There is always a gap between expectations of a life following Christ and reality. When I was a teenager, and we had just moved to Texas from Connecticut, my dad came home one day baffled by a traffic incident. This other driver felt my dad cut him off (maybe the difference between East Coast and Texas drivers). It was the man's response that struck him. He told my dad, "You can't do that to me. I am a Christian!" My dad, not necessarily a religious man at that time, wondered what being a Christian had to do with it. Did this man never expect to be mistreated (if he was) because he was a Christian? Being a Christian does not make us immune to all harm or mistreatment. Most Christians realize this, yet there are times we struggle with unanswered prayer.


Some have left the faith because a loved one died. From a compassionate standpoint, you want to be present, listen, and ask questions that might help them process it. From another perspective, I want to ask what world they thought they lived in. "For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45).


It takes faith to trust that God hears our prayers and trust him when he does not answer the way we want. This difficulty makes the response of Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego to Nebuchadnezzar all the more inspiring. As we discussed on Sunday in Daniel 3:


Nebuchadnezzar ...said to them, “...if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the God who will deliver you out of my hands?" Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.  If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up”  (Daniel 3:14, 16-18). 


Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego's trust in the Lord's ability to save them is unwavering. Their decision is not based on the outcome of their situation, but on their devotion to the Lord. Their stance is clear: they will not serve other gods, regardless of the circumstances. This echoes the words of Jesus, "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it " (Matthew 16:25).


If you trust God is able and yet:

            he doesn't heal

            he doesn't provide in the way you ask

            he doesn't change your circumstances

            can you say, "But if not, I will still worship the LORD."


The scriptures offer us solace in trying circumstances, encouraging us to sing ‘It is well with my soul.’ We can find strength in the words of Paul, who 'learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need' and proclaimed, 'I can do all things through him who strengthens me' (Philippians 4:12-13). Jesus, our redeemer and the one we are to emulate, said 'let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will' (Matthew 26:39). In these situations, we might need to pray, 'Lord, I believe; help my unbelief' (Mark 9:24). And when we do, we can look forward to eternity, knowing that 'this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison' (2 Corinthians 4:17).