Read Psalm 30.
At first, I was skeptical. I didn’t believe the dentist when he told me my fillings were making me sick. Mercury, the primary ingredient in traditional fillings, is poisonous to humans, he told me. He said I’d feel better if I had each one replaced with a modern composite. As a bonus, the bits of silver in my mouth would be replaced with white. My wife, Laurin, who is always up in the know on this sort of thing, insisted that I have my fillings replaced. And so, I agreed.
It took four separate office visits to have it done. Each one was uncomfortable, but one in particular still makes me cringe when I think of it. In order to get to the teeth in the back of my mouth on top, the dentist had to tilt the chair way back. Then, to keep me from gagging or swallowing anything harmful, he placed a plastic guard in mouth. Finally, so I could breathe, he put a mask over my nose that released oxygen. He looked at me with a straight face, which appeared nearly upside-down from my precarious position, and said, “Just relax, and breathe normally.”
I couldn’t. I felt so smothered with all that stuff in my mouth and on my face, and the blood rushing to my head. I can be somewhat claustrophobic by nature, but this took feeling trapped to a new level. I’ve never wanted to rebel in the dentist’s chair before—I usually go along with whatever they tell me to do—but on this visit, I envisioned myself throwing off my face shackles, stealing that pokey-scrapey tool they use, and fighting my way toward the door, never to return.
I was told the procedure would take twenty minutes or so, but I counted the seconds, and it was at least a year and a half by my reckoning. I endured it, awful though it was.
A few weeks later, however, I realized that I actually did feel better. I had fewer headaches and upset stomachs, slept better at night, and had more energy as a result. I would never have thought my silver fillings were to blame, but I’m glad I went through the pain and discomfort of those appointments.
In the midst of a painful season, I can have trouble believing that an end will come. On the other hand, unforeseen blessings often make me suspicious. They can seem too good to be true, and I’ll keep looking over my shoulder for something to rock my world. There’s a reason for this: we live in a cursed world. Trouble comes to all of us. Sure enough, there actually are blessings—and some of them are quite long-lasting—but as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Our souls feel that instinctively.
But the Bible actually gives us another perspective. Compared to eternity, our troubles are “light and momentary.” The glory we will receive “far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Jesus put it this way:
Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (John 16:20–22)
In Psalm 30, David glimpses this reality. He says, “[God’s] anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (v. 5). David has done something wrong and perceives that his suffering is a result of God’s anger. Even still, he is confident that the Lord’s favor will make this period of hardship seem like it passed by in the blink of an eye in comparison.
I am wary of saying only eternity matters. In some ears, that might sound like nothing we do here and now matters a lick. I think the opposite is actually true. What we do now impacts eternity, so while this time is short, how we use it matters exponentially. At the same time, suffering does not have the final word. Death is a blip; life is forever. Hardship is a rounding error; the goodness of God is unending.
Whatever it is you’re facing today, this too shall pass. The only thing that won’t are the plans and promises of God. And for that reason, everyone who trust in Jesus for their salvation can join with David in saying, “LORD my God, I will praise you forever” (v. 12).