21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (NIV)
As Christians, I believe that most of us would say that being fully in the presence of God in Heaven will be better than this Earth. Yet, we hold on to the things of this world so tightly. Often our grip on this Earth is so tight that we release spiritual things to grasp what we want from this world. If we know Heaven is better, why do we not hold tighter to the things of God? Why are we so tied to this world?
Another striking point from Paul is that his dilemma is not whether or not to remain with those he loves and who love him. He does not struggle to remain on Earth because of earthly relationships, but for the opportunity to serve Christ. Now, this is so far from our comprehension. When we think of Heaven admitting it would be better than this life, our struggle is more about leaving those we love. But Paul’s struggle is that it would end His service to the Lord in this realm. Do we love serving the Lord to the point we could let Heaven wait?
We are missing the eternal perspective of Paul. We are missing the eternal perspective of Christ. At the forefront of their every thought was the reality that this life was a time to serve the Lord and regardless of the struggles, pain, suffering, victories, and celebrations, Heaven would be their forever home.
Paul would characterize the difficulties of this life as light and momentary. Considering the difficulties he faced were being stoned, shipwrecked, and continually attacked, with a supernatural revelation that he would eventually be put to death for his faith. That’s a little more than any of us face, but for him, even the severity of his troubles was light and momentary. He knew no matter how bad things might get they were temporary, preparing Him for Heaven, and unable to compare in their darkness to the glorious peace that would come in Heaven.
Eternal perspective is keeping our current context within the greater context of eternity and Heaven. This perspective keeps us in a better place through the severe suffering of this life.
Prayer: Lord, help me to keep the reality of eternity front and center in my thoughts as I go through my day. Teach me to say ‘this suffering is light and momentary’ so that I will not be overcome by anything in this world. Amen.