Years ago I had a pastor ask me this question. “Will all this matter in eternity?” It was in response to an issue I was sharing with him that had me very frustrated at the time. I must confess, his response sort of made me mad.
Of course it wouldn’t matter in eternity, but it mattered NOW. And since I was living NOW, it was NOW that I was concerned with.
Fast forward about 20 years and I find myself asking the same question of myself and my children at times. Today I can’t even remember what that conversation with my pastor was about, but his question stuck with me.
Jesus said that today has enough troubles of its own so we shouldn’t worry about the future. And sometimes anything beyond the next hour is too much to think about. We can get bogged down in the cares of life and forget that this life isn’t all there is.
If I ask you to submit to excruciating pain for five seconds with the understanding that you would NEVER experience pain again for the rest of your life would you do it? Most people would because they immediately understand that they are being offered an incredible gift. No pain forever? I would absolutely do that!
The reason we can see the benefit of this trade is that we project our vision out beyond the five seconds to see what we gain in the long run. The bigger picture of being pain-free would be worth five seconds.
Maybe the reason I’ve learned this lesson as well as I have, (and I’m still learning it in some areas), is that I have seven sons and had to choose each time to look past the difficulty of the process, to the joy of holding that precious little bundle in my arms. If I hadn’t figured out how to project my vision to a place beyond the pain, I would have only had one child!
Now think about your life. Even if you live to be 100 your life is only a blip on eternity’s radar. You can’t even measure 100 years against forever and ever and ever…
What you may be dealing with today could be the most challenging thing you’ve faced in your life. But could you ask yourself that question, “Will this matter in eternity?” Yes, it matters now. Yes, you still have to deal with it. But you can choose to face it with the knowledge that it is temporary. It doesn’t have to defeat you.
I love the song that Hillsong United does called “Oceans.” One part of the lyrics says,
“And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine.”
God calls us to keep our eyes above the waves. Some waves are bigger than others but if we keep our eyes above them we will see God and not fear being overwhelmed by a tidal wave.
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12 (ESV)