The Joyful Pain of Gazing at the Son

The sun was so beautiful as its light diffused through the atmosphere, producing a glowing orb of dark orange and magenta colors perfectly blended. It was captivating as it hung low in the sky and I drove directly towards it. But as you know, one should not look directly at the Sun for an extended length of time. But I couldn’t help myself. I would stare at its beauty until I’d have to look away because of the blinding light. After a short break, looking at something else, I would gaze back at the beauty of this magnificent star that God is put in our sky. Then the pain would return and I would have to look away. Again and again I gazed at the Sun until my driving route forced me to turn and lose sight of it.

Why endure the pain you may think? Maybe you just think I’m utterly foolish! But that temporary pain was worth the view. In just a few minutes my eyes had completely returned to normal. The pain was completely gone. But the memory of that beautiful sunset remained. It was a gorgeous gift from God after a busy week. The pain was worth it.

But more than that, the Sun reminded me of the Son, Jesus. The Sun often reminds me of the Son. Every part of life on this planet revolves around the Sun just as every part of life on this planet (and beyond) ultimately revolves around the Son (Col 1:15–17). Even if someone does not have the eyes of faith to see it now, one day every knee will bow before him and his Majesty, acknowledging his supremacy over all things (Phil 2:9–10). The glory that shines forth from the Sun reminds me of the Son who radiates the very glory of God as he bears the exact imprint of his nature (Heb 1:3). Even now, we are able to behold the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Cor 4:6). We do not behold his face directly; we cannot physically see Jesus today. But we behold him in the pages of God‘s Word, which Peter says is more secure than the experience of seeing Christ transfigured on the mountain (2 Pet 1:16–21)!

But sometimes gazing into the glorious face of Christ can be just as painful as in looking into the Sun. When I gaze at Jesus, my failures are made more clear. My sin is ever before me. I see how much farther I have to go in my pursuit of holiness and how much more of his cleansing is needed in my life. Yet, just like gazing at a beautiful sunset for too long, the pain of looking at Jesus is worth it. For the temporary pain of see my sinful failures and inadequacies in light of Jesus’ glory leads to unfathomable blessings. For even in my imperfections, there is still love, forgiveness, fellowship–all from a Shepherd who cares for my soul with more kindness and tenderness in mercy than I could ever imagine (1 John 1:5–9; Matt 1:28–30). And I know that that temporary pain of seeing myself in contrast to Christ also brings change (2 Cor 3:1–18). So, I’m not just comforted in my weakness; every believer has the promise that seeing the glory of Christ actually makes us look more like him. We look less like us–and the image of Adam we still bear–and more like the image of God’s Son.

The pain is worth it.

Note: This article was cross-posted at the Providence Bible Fellowship blog.

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