For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” — 2 Corinthians 4:17
Did you know that the word for “jail” and the word for “chair” in Portuguese are very similar? Neither did I, until recently. I was involved in a car accident here in Mozambique that required me to go to a trial so the courts could decide who was to blame. This was a nerve-wracking situation for me on many levels. I didn’t know the process, I didn’t want to blamed for something I didn’t do, and I knew I needed to communicate clearly in a language other than English (something that is a daily struggle for me anyway). I practiced what I needed to say in Portuguese, but I couldn’t prepare for the questions that would be asked of me. It started off a little rough when the judge asked me if I had ever been to jail before. All I heard was a question about a chair. My mind was desperately trying to make “chair” fit the context of the situation, but I couldn’t do it. One word threw off the entire question, and without context, I was lost.
But the necessity of context goes beyond confusion in another language. You can get so busy trying to sort out the “jails” from the “chairs” that you miss the big picture. I let the stress of the trial, “a momentary, light affliction,” affect the context of my life last week. It was an experience God used to stretch me and grow me, but it shouldn’t have been the big picture. What God is doing in my life and what He is calling me to do is the big picture and is part of an eternal context.